British filmmaker Tom Hooper, who directed the South African film Red Dust starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank, will direct the film adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom. The film is produced by Anant Singh of Videovision Entertainment, producers of Red Dust and the Oscar-nominated Yesterday.
Hooper also directed the highly acclaimed and much awarded British TV series, Elizabeth I, which starred Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. In addition, Hooper also directed the multi-award winning mini-series John Adams, about the American Revolution and the second president of the United States of America. The series won four Golden Globes and received the most Emmys awarded to a programme in a single year in the history of American television.
Many years in development, Long Walk To Freedom was originally connected with Indian director Shekar Kapur (Four Feathers; Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Bill Nicholson, who wrote the screenplay of Videovision Entertainment’s anti-apartheid musical, Sarafina! and who received an Oscar nomination for Gladiotor, has penned the “Long Walk’ script.
Hooper was introduced to Nelson Mandela by Singh last week. Said Singh: “I am delighted that we are able to meet with “Madiba’ [Mandela], and to introduce him to Tom and to reaffirm his support for the project. As the custodian of the film rights to the book, I have a major responsibility to Madiba and to the nation to portray his amazing legacy in a major motion picture. This is a challenging and daunting task and there is no compromise. As a result, it has taken a longer time than one would have liked. We are delighted that all the elements have finally come into place. In addition, it was lovely to see Madiba in good spirits and recollecting stories of his early days.’
Hooper commented, “”Nelson Mandela is a towering figure of our times, and it has been a great privilege to have had the opportunity to meet him and to watch and listen as he talked – inspirational, when approaching the responsibility of telling his story.”
The film is set to be an epic motion picture and the most ambitious South African film project ever mounted. It is positioned as “the definitive Mandela film’.
Global cinema audiences will experience the extraordinary story of Mandela’s life – an epic tale of struggle, sacrifice, loss, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph. The film will reveal both visually and historically, the life of Mandela and the freedom movement – a story of soaring inspiration and human suffering. In the same way that Gandhi and Lawrence of Arabia were personifications of the vast struggles they waged, Mandela won the freedom of, and shaped an entire nation. It will also look at Mandela as an international icon, a man of strength, generosity, humanity and of him as a statesman and a man of the people.
Mandela, a long time admirer of Singh and his work made the following comment when Singh was awarded the film rights some years back: “Anant Singh is a producer I respect very much and when we were considering various offers, I personally opted for him. He is a man of tremendous ability and I think that given the resources and support, he can do absolutely excellently.’
CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Achmat Dangor said, “We are pleased that the production of Long Walk To Freedom, which is the official Mandela film, is now underway. This cinematic depiction can add immensely to the powerful story of a remarkable human being. We are sure that Anant Singh and Tom Hooper will do justice to Nelson Mandela’s epic tale.’
Further details on the production of Long Walk To Freedom, including casting and commencement date will be announced shortly.