JOHANNESBURG – A long-awaited film on the life of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela premiered in his native South Africa on Sunday, stirring emotional memories of the country’s turbulent history.
“Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom,” largely based on his autobiography of the same title, traces the life of the revered leader from his childhood in the rural Eastern Cape to his election as the country’s first black president in 1994.
The 95-year-old Mandela was too frail to attend the premiere as he is under medical care at home after having spent three months in a hospital in critical condition with a lung infection earlier this year.
His ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, said in remarks before the screening that she had “no words” to describe the film’s “translation of that painful past.”
The 2½-hour movie will hit South African cinemas on Nov. 28 and will be released in the United States in December.
Mandela is played by British actor Idris Elba, 41, and Winnie by Naomie Harris, also from Britain.