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Nelson Mandela's life to be made into 'candid' biopic


Nelson Mandela has given his approval to the series

Nelson Mandela has given his approval to the series

Nelson Mandela has given his approval to the series

A mini-series based on the life of Nelson Mandela and his battle against apartheid in South Africa is due to be produced by the former president's grandson.

Kweku Mandela, 26, said the $20m (€15m), six-part series would focus on "Mandela the man" rather than "Mandela the saint", looking candidly at what he had achieved and which of his dreams were still to be realised.

Spanning six decades, it will examine his family life, his 27 years in prison and his negotiations with the apartheid government that led to his election as the country's first black president in 1994.

Mr Mandela said his grandfather, 93, had given his approval to the series, which will be entitled "Madiba" after his Xhosa clan name, on certain conditions.

"He understands that there is a general interest in him and is happy for these stories to be told but he wants them to be told accurately," he said.

"Something which is also a major thing for me is that he wants it to be reiterated that he didn't do this alone, that people like Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Joe Slovo should get the credit they deserve."

Nigel Williams, the writer behind the 2005 Helen Mirren series, Elizabeth I, has signed up to the project, along with Left Bank Pictures, the British firm behind football film The Damned United and TV series Wallander.

The cast for the series will be announced shortly, and filming will begin in South Africa later this year.

The series is based on two recently-released additions to the Mandela archive, a collection of the former statesmans' letters, diary entries and interview transcripts entitled "Conversations with Myself", and a compendium of quotations, "Nelson Mandela by Himself".

Mr Mandela said that it would not gloss over the difficult areas of his grandfather's life, from leaving his family for long years working underground and then in prison, to setting up an armed wing of the ANC and negotiating with the apartheid government following his release from prison against a backdrop of devastating internecine violence.

"I don't want to make another film about my grandfather that finishes with a happy ending where everyone lives happily ever after," Kweku Mandela said.

"He had to make some tough decisions at the negotiating table in the early 1990s, and we want to show what they fought for in the early days of apartheid, when he got caught and when he went to jail.

"Some decisions he took helped us to get to where we are today and some didn't pan out as he had hoped. For example, his dream of free education in this country has still not been achieved."

Other films about Nelson Mandela include "Invictus", in which he was played by Morgan Freeman, and "Goodbye Bafana",featuring Dennis Haysbert as Mandela and Joseph Fiennes as his prison guard.