TOP ACTORS COVET PLAYING MANDELA ROLE
ONLY a handful of South African actors have played Nelson Mandela on the screen – big or small.
Names that immediately spring to mind include Lindani Nkosi, who portrays the anti-apartheid activist in the 1950s in the movie Drum (2004) – based on the life and times of investigative journalist Henry
“Mr Drum” Nxumalo. There’s also Mandela’s Gun (2016), about the Mandela of the early 1960s who was disillusioned with civil disobedience and decided to take up the armed struggle against the apartheid establishment.
An Act of Defiance: The Bram Fischer Story (2017) is a biopic of anti-apartheid activist, lawyer and communist Bram Fischer. It highlights the Nelson Mandela of the Rivonia Trial (1963-64) and explores the relationship between the two. One is a white Afrikaner who was born into white privilege but sacrificed all that in favour of the anti-apartheid struggle. The other is a Xhosa prince from the Thembu royal house, incarcerated for his role in attempting to topple the government. One of Mandela and his comrades’ defence lawyers during the historic marathon trial is Bram Fischer, who has apparently managed to reconcile his Afrikaner background with the need for justice for all.
In An Act of Defiance, Mandela and Fischer are portrayed by Sello Motloung and Peter Paul Muller respectively. The latter is a Dutchborn actor. He plays the role of the sympathetic lawyer who risks everything to defend the accused in a case he’s unlikely to win, and that might earn them a death sentence.
The film is a Dutch/South African collaboration and premiered in October last year at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival, and took home the 2017 Dorfman Best Film Award at the UK Jewish Film Festival.
Although Bram Fischer never attained the cult status of his famous client, his story in the struggle for freedom in South Africa is important, and this film is a worthy contribution to this significant but dark chapter of our history.
Motloung has earned his chance to portray the Mandela figure.
He has distinguished himself in a number of memorable roles, including Nna Sajene Kokobela (Sergeant Kokobela, 2001) and
Biznis: The Whole Story (1999).