Winnie Mandela May Sue To Halt Film

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In a letter to the film's producer, Andre Pieterse, Ms. Mandela said she will sue the production company, which could halt work on the film; she wants to approve the final version of the script.

[International]

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, activist and ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, has threatened legal action against a film producer who is planning to begin filming a movie based on her life, unless she approves the script.

Academy Award winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson has been cast to play Ms. Mandela.

In a letter to the film's producer, Andre Pieterse, Ms. Mandela said she will sue the production company, which could halt work on the film; she wants to approve the final version of the script.

"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," Pieterse responded. Pieterse did seem to address Ms. Mandela's concern, noting: "If the film maligns her in any way then there will be legal basis for her to take action."

The film is to be based on Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography of the Mandela; it has been licensed by Equinoxe Films and will span most of her life, following her from her early teens through the present.

However the film won't ignore the controversies Mandela has endured such as fraud charges, kidnapping allegations and a trial, and her failed marriage to former South African President Nelson Mandela; it will not focus on those aspects of her life.

"We have such a perception of her, but it's entirely the incorrect one, because she was one of the few saviors of South Africa," the film's director Darrell Roodt, said, adding that Ms. Mandela will like the finished project. "This is a woman who is just extraordinary beyond all measure and it's high time that a great film is made about a great South African and a great human being."

Production on the film is to begin in South Africa on May 31 and last 10 weeks. It's to be released next year.

The film's director has shifted the focus off of Mandela's apartheid activism, saying that the film will be lean towards showing an epic romance. Ms. Mandela and South African liberation hero Nelson Mandela divorced in 1994.

Ms. Mandela endured several incidents that shook her reputation. In 1989 she was convicted for kidnapping and accessory to
assault in the torture and murder of a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Moeketsi, who was suspected of being a police informer. Jerry Richardson, Ms. Mandela's bodyguard was convicted of the murder--he claimed it was under her orders.

Ms. Mandela's own six year sentence was reduced to a fine and a two-year suspended sentence.

She was also charged with 68 counts of fraud and theft and blamed for promoting "necklacing" during the anti-apartheid struggle, a practice in which gasoline doused tires were set ablaze around people's necks.

Still, Ms. Mandela has many enduring fans and admirers; many recall how she single-handedly championed Nelson Mandela's cause while he was incarcerated for 27 years and the persecution she endured from the apartheid regime.


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