Winnie Mandela (film)

Winnie Mandela is a 2011 drama film adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob's biography Winnie Mandela: A Life. The film is directed by Darrell Roodt, and stars Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Wendy Crewson, Elias Koteas, and Justin Strydom. Image Entertainment released the film in theaters on September 6, 2013.[2][3][4]

Winnie Mandela
Film poster
Directed byDarrell Roodt
Produced byMichael Mosca
T.D. Jakes
Written byDarrell Roodt, Andre Pieterse, Paul Ian Johnson (Screenplay)
Based onWinnie Mandela: A Life
by Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob
StarringJennifer Hudson
Terrence Howard
Wendy Crewson
Elias Koteas
Justin Strydom
CinematographyMario Janelle
Edited bySylvain Lebel
Equinoxe Films
Distributed byImage Entertainment
D Films
TDJ Enterprises
Film Bridge International
Release date
  • September 16, 2011 (2011-09-16) (Toronto Film Festival)
  • September 6, 2013 (2013-09-06) (United States)
CountrySouth Africa / Canada
Box office$80,634[1]


Following the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (Jennifer Hudson), from her strict rural upbringing by a father disappointed she was not born a boy, to her giving up the chance to study in America in order to remain in South Africa where she felt more needed, through her husband Nelson Mandela's (Terrence Howard) imprisonment. She then faces continuous harassment by the security police, banishment to a small Free State town, betrayal by friends and allies, and more than a year in solitary confinement. Upon her release, she continues her husband's activism against apartheid and, after his release from prison, suffers divorce due to her infidelity and political pressures. She also faces accusations of violence and murder and in the end, must own up to her actions in court, while many still remain loyal to her because of her fight against apartheid.[5]



Writers Andre Pieterse and Darrell Roodt, who also directed, developed the screenplay based on Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob's biography Winnie Mandela: A Life. The film was produced by Equinoxe Films. Filming took place in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Robben Island in South Africa beginning in April 2010.[6]


Winnie Mandela criticized the fact that she was not consulted for the making of a film about her life, stating, "I have absolutely nothing against Jennifer [Hudson, the film's star], but I have everything against the movie itself. I was not consulted. 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."[7]

Some South African actors also criticized the selection of American actors for South African roles; Oupa Lebogo, general secretary of the Creative Worker's Union (CWU) said of Hudson's casting, "This decision must be reversed, it must be stopped now. If the matter doesn't come up for discussion, we will push for a moratorium to be placed on the film being cast in South Africa. We are being undermined, there is no respect at all."[8]

A preview of the film released in November 2010 was referred to by the filmmakers as originating from computer hackers, saying it was an "unauthorised download originated from a secure website belonging to our sales representative, Filmbridge ... The material was not formally edited, graded or sound-mixed. At this stage, the producers have elected to make no further comment and are investigating the matter."[9]

Release and reception

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011.[10]

By April 2012, T.D. Jakes and his company TDJ Enterprises/Film Bridge International had taken over the production, distribution and marketing of the film.[11] It was released to a limited number of theatres in Canada on October 5, 2012.[12] On May 16, 2013, Image Entertainment acquired the rights to release the film in North America.[2][3][4]

The film holds a 15 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 34 critics. The site's consensus states, "Winnie Mandela takes few chances and delves only superficially into its subject's life, making it feel more like a too-earnest made-for-TV movie than a proper biopic."[13] Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail says, "Winnie begins as hagiography and ends in hellish confusion," and Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star said, "It won't satisfy history students curious about this polarizing figure, nor fans of its star, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson."[13] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter stated, "Solid performances are undercut by lack of storytelling integrity in this plodding biopic,"[14] and Ed Gibbs of The Guardian said, "This syrupy biography of the former wife of Nelson Mandela seeks to sugar-coat South Africa's complex history."[15]


  1. "Winnie Mandela". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  2. Cannes: Image Entertainment Acquires Rights To Winnie Mandela Biopic Retrieved May 17, 2013
  3. "Jennifer Hudson's Winnie Mandela Trailer Hits the Web—Watch!". Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  4. "Winnie Mandela". Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  5. Marino, Mark (November 16, 2010), Jennifer Hudson Takes On Bear of a Role in 'Winnie' Trailer,, retrieved July 1, 2012
  6. Fernandez, Jay A. (June 17, 2010). "Wendy Crewson joins 'Winnie' biopic". Associated Press via The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  7. Smith, David (June 14, 2011), The Guardian, retrieved July 1, 2012
  8. Smith, David (December 7, 2009), The Guardian, retrieved July 1, 2012
  9. Ndebele, Gabisile (November 18, 2010), Times Live, retrieved July 3, 2010
  10. Winnie Mandela Trailer: Another Mandela Movie Retrieved August 9, 2014
  11. Friedman, Roger (April 26, 2012), Forbes, retrieved July 1, 2012
  12. 'Winnie' Gets An Official Release Trailer; Opens In Canada October 5 Retrieved August 9, 2014
  13. "Winnie Mandela". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  14. Rooney, David (September 17, 2011), The Hollywood Reporter, retrieved July 2, 2012
  15. Gibbs, Ed (September 21, 2011), The Guardian, UK, retrieved July 2, 2012
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