Mandela biopic receives eight-minute standing ovation

2013-09-10 00:00

A NEW biopic based on former president Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, received an eight-minute standing ovation at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Saturday.

British actor Idris Elba (Luther, Pacific Rim) plays Mandela in the film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The movie is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) and produced by Anant Singh of Durban-based Video Vision. The screenplay is by Oscar-nominated William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator).

Elba, Chadwick and Singh were joined by the film’s other cast members — British actress Naomie Harris (Skyfall), who plays Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; comedian and actor Riaad Moosa (Material), who plays anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada; Lindiwe Matshikiza (Zindsi Mandela); Deon Lotz (Kobie Coetsee) and Terry Pheto (Tsotsi) who stars as Evelyn Mase — on the red carpet prior to the premiere.

Other well-known actors performing in the film include Tony Kgoroge (Walter Sisulu), Fana Mokoena (Govan Mbeki), Thapelo Mokoena (Elias Motsoaledi) and Gys de Villiers (President F.W. de Klerk).

According to the Associated Press, Chadwick told reporters at a TIFF press conference in Toronto that Elba was “the brave choice” for the role.

He added: “We’re not going for a looky-likey, soundy-likey version of Mandela. We’re trying to catch the spirit.”

Elba plays the South African statesman from young firebrand revolutionary through to old age, with the help of make-up and ageing effects.

The film begins in 1924 and follows Madiba from his early childhood, through to his arrival in Johannesburg and culminates with his election as president of South Africa in 1994.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has been in development for two decades.

Singh revealed that while the 95-year-old wasn’t involved in the production or able to meet with Elba, he did show him scenes from the film using an iPad. When he saw Elba in character, Mandela reportedly asked: “Is that me?”

Singh added: “I was humbled and honoured when Madiba chose me to be the custodian of the film rights to his autobiography.

“We are privileged to have had the endorsement of Mr Mandela and the support of the foundation over these years. We are proud of our film and we are delighted that it is now complete. I salute the thousands of people who came together to support us to get the film made.”

The film — which was shot entirely in South Africa at locations in Cape Town, Robben Island, Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape — will have its South African premier at Maponya Mall in Soweto in November, and will hit cinemas on November 28.

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