Mandela’s life story to be turned into TV series

09 January 2012 - 21:11 By Sapa
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Image: Tyrone Arthur/ Business Day

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela's life story is to be turned into a six-part television mini-series co-created by his grandson, the producers behind the multinational project said.

Entitled "Madiba", Mandela's clan name, the series "will take a broad view of the inner passions and outside forces that guided him," they said in a statement.

With a budget of $30 million (24 million euros), the project will explore Mandela's relationship with his mother, his political activism, imprisonment, rise as political leader and election as South Africa's first black president.

The producers will announce who will play the democracy icon once casting finishes in the next few weeks, said Lance Samuels, whose South African production house Out of Africa will co-produce the series with Kweku Mandela, a grandson to the apartheid hero.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it supported the undertaking and was helping with research.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winner was imprisoned for 27 years for his fight against white oppression in South Africa. He was freed in 1990 and elected president four years later.

Kweku Mandela said it would seek to portray "Mandela the man" instead of "Mandela the saint."

Out of Africa, Canada's Blue Ice Films and Britain's Left Bank Pictures will film mainly on-site in South Africa.

"We will start filming in August and plan to release by 2013," Samuels told AFP.

"We are just pretty much putting the script together and casting."

Main characters will be cast from London and Los Angeles, while South African actors would make up the supporting cast, said Samuels.

Emmy- and BAFTA-winning writer Nigel Williams, acclaimed for the miniseries Elizabeth I with Helen Mirren in the title role, is penning the six one-hour television episodes.

The screenplay will be based on two Mandela books -- his autobiographical "Conversations with Myself" and a book of authorised quotations, "Nelson Mandela by Himself".

"All movies about Mandela only pin-pointed one period in his life. A six-hour miniseries can cover his life from when he was a little boy until he became president," Samuels told AFP.

"A feature films does not have the time to do that."

Producers include Left Bank Pictures' Andy Harries and Marigo Kehoe, famed for the Oscar-winning film "The Queen", which also starred Mirren.

Public interest in Mandela, 93, has remained strong throughout his imprisonment, political career and retirement.

Several films have been made about his life, notably Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" (2009) with Morgan Freeman in the title role, and "Goodbye Bafana" (2007), with Joseph Fiennes playing a jail warden opposite Dennis Haysbert's Mandela.

The producers said they have a short-list of high-profile directors.

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now