Weinstein Company to release ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Harvey Weinstein has a reputation as one of the most talented and aggressive Oscar campaigners in the business, and as former head of Miramax Films and co-founder of The Weinstein Company, he helped turn "The English Patient," "Shakespeare In Love," "Good Will Hunting," and "Life Is Beautiful" into major award winners. While the Weinstein Company has "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Django Unchained" in the running for awards this coming Sunday, it looks like he's already lining up some prestige projects for consideration in 2014, including a major film on the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The Weinsten Company had announced they've won distribution rights to "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," an upcoming screen biography of the celebrated South African anti-apartheid activist and political leader Nelson Mandela. Idris Elba will star as Mandela, and Naomie Harris, recently in "Skyfall," will play his wife, Winnie Mandela. Adapted from Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk To Freedom" has been a long-gestating project for producer Anant Singh, who began corresponding with Mandela when he was still in prison for his actions with the African National Congress, and has owned the rights to his book since 1999.

In a statement, Harvey Weinstein said, "I am extremely passionate about 'Long Walk to Freedom.' (Producer) Anant Singh first gave the book to me when the first edition came out. We have been talking about making this film since 1999. There have been a number of stop and goes, but sometimes things work out for a reason, and Anant Singh has done a masterful job in producing this epic story of our times."

Mandela has also praised producer Singh. "Singh is a producer I respect very much," he said. "Given the resources and backing, he will produce a work of the highest standards and excellence, and it is for that reason, I opted for him."

Justin Chadwick, whose credits include "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The First Grader," is directing "Mandela: Long Wall To Freedom."

Shooting has been completed, and the film is expected to reach theaters in 2013.