Winnie Mandela film to start despite legal threat
Jennifer Hudson's film biography of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is about to start production, despite threats of legal action by the ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, the film's producer said yesterday.
Speaking at a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival, Andre Pieterse said he received a letter from lawyers for Ms Madikizela-Mandela that "contained the threat of an interdict that could stop production" of Winnie.
The letter said that "she would like to see the script and approve", but Mr Pieterse said he and director Darrell Roodt had decided against that. "The film will be made based on a screenplay that was well researched and without any interference, without any influence from any of the main characters," he said.
Production on Winnie is slated to begin in South Africa on May 31 and last 10 weeks.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela rose to prominence during South Africa's apartheid era, when she led the African National Congress and vigorously campaigned for the release of her husband, who spent 27 years in jail.
Their marriage fell apart a few years after his 1990 release. In 1991, Ms Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to six years in jail for her role in a kidnapping case. The sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal, but she was later convicted of fraud and theft charges.
Mr Roodt sought to downplay the unsavoury elements of Ms Madikizela-Mandela's biography, repeatedly calling the Mandelas' relationship "an amazing love story about what one woman will do for her man". The movie spans most of Ms Madikizela-Mandela's life, following her from her early teens through to the present, Mr Roodt said.