A Bishop T.D. Jakes presented-movie about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela who was a leading anti-apartheid figure in South Africa, has been acquired in the U.S. by movie production and distribution company Image Entertainment.
“This movie offers American audiences a rare opportunity to visit the amazing beauty of South Africa from a theater seat,” said Jakes of Dallas-based The Potter’s House, who is the executive producer of the film.
“But even more, it is an epic look at love and liberty and the great expense incurred to attain and maintain either. It is our honor to inspire a wider audience to sample the drama of a love life painted on the canvas of Apartheid. Image Entertainment and RLJ, we applaud you for having the courage to unveil this compelling story on screen.”
The movie stars Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela, while Nelson Mandela is played by Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard. An initial version of the film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, but the $15 million drama has now been granted a U.S. release in the fall.
“Both Jennifer Hudson (as Winnie) and Terrence Howard (as Nelson Mandela) deliver exceptional, solid performances,” said Bill Bromiley, Chief Acquisitions Officer for Image Entertainment, according to Deadline.com. “We are honored to distribute the film and give audiences the opportunity to see Winnie Mandela’s powerful story.”
Winnie Mandela, who was married to former South Africa president Nelson Mandela from 1957 to 1996, stands as a complicated figure in the African country’s history. She was a vocal activist against the white minority rule government while her husband was imprisoned, and served 18 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison in 1969.
She has been celebrated for her anti-Apartheid efforts, but in 2003 was convicted of 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft and sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty by the court of abusing her power as head of the African National Congress’ women’s league and defrauding a bank and dozens of people.
Deadline summarizes: “The film tells the compelling story of one woman’s journey as she fights for the freedom of the man she loves and for the freedom of her people during the Apartheid era. Winnie Mandela depicts the struggle to keep the Mandela dream alive amidst her husband’s life imprisonment, her own time in solitary confinement, and her battle to overcome controversies that followed her through the years.”
Director Darrell J. Roodt called the film “a labor of love,” and said that the purpose was to uphold “the prestige of the Mandela name” and tell the story in an accurate, yet respectful manner.
“We took great pride and responsibility in creating this movie, and we are proud to release the never-before-seen dramatic love story this fall,” Roodt added.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, however, has criticized the film, saying that she was not consulted by the makers on a movie based on her life.
“I was not consulted,” she told CNN in 2011. “I am still alive, and I think that it is a total disrespect to come to South Africa, make a movie about my struggle, and call that movie some translation of a romantic life of Winnie Mandela.”