CATEGORIES Movies
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has led a long and eventful life as one of the most controversial figures in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. And considering the recent resurgence of interest in South Africa on the big screen -- spurred in part by last year's acclaimed film 'Invictus,' which focused on her ex-husband Nelson Mandela's attempts to reunite the nation -- it would seem like the perfect time for Hollywood to give Madikizela-Mandela the big screen treatment as well. Only one person seems to disagree: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela herself.

Yes, according to Reuters, the big budget adaptation of her life story, 'Winnie,' has come under fire from Madikizela-Mandela, who sent a letter to producer André Pieterse requesting that she be given final approval on the script before filming begins. That sounds like a fairly mild request -- if one that is exceedingly unlikely to be granted -- but Pieterse sees it as a threat to his production. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has led a long and eventful life as one of the most controversial figures in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. And considering the recent resurgence of interest in South Africa on the big screen -- spurred in part by last year's acclaimed film 'Invictus,' which focused on her ex-husband Nelson Mandela's attempts to reunite the nation -- it would seem like the perfect time for Hollywood to give Madikizela-Mandela the big-screen treatment as well. Only one person seems to disagree: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela herself.

Yes, according to Reuters, the big-budget adaptation of her life story, 'Winnie,' has come under fire from Madikizela-Mandela, who sent a letter to producer André Pieterse requesting that she be given final approval on the script before filming begins. That sounds like a fairly mild request -- if one that is exceedingly unlikely to be granted -- but Pieterse sees it as a threat to his production.

"It was a benign letter and yet it contained the threat of an indictment, an interdict that could stop the picture," Pieterse said.

That, however, seems even more unlikely than Madikizela-Mandela being given script approval. With Jennifer Hudson signed up to play Madikizela-Mandela and Terrence Howard on board as Nelson Mandela, shooting is set to begin on location in just two weeks. And since the movie is based on Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography of the activist, which has been licensed by Equinoxe Films, it wouldn't seem as though Madikizela-Mandela had much of a legal case.

"If the film maligns her in any way then there will be legal basis for her to take action," Pieterse said. But director Darrell Roodt seems sure once she sees the movie, Madikizela-Mandela will be pleased as punch.

"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," Roodt gushed. "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."

Of course, not everyone is so effusive regarding
Madikizela-Mandela, who was convicted of kidnapping and accessory to assault in the torture and murder of a 14-year-old boy in 1989. Combined with the 68 counts of fraud and theft she was found guilty of in 2003 and her apartheid-era reputation for violent rhetoric -- including supporting the practice of burning people alive as a means of political protest -- she's far from a universally beloved figure in South Africa, though there are many who praise her extensive political efforts.

Roodt, however, sees her tale less as a complex study of apartheid and more as an epic romance, describing the movie as "an amazing love story." Madikizela-Mandela, it might be noted, was divorced from her husband in 1994 after it was revealed that she had cheated on him during his 27-year imprisonment.