Panorama | Documentaries
Nelson Mandela’s most effective surrogate, and the de facto leader of the anti-Apartheid movement in the 1980s, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is heading into the history books as a divisive figure. Politically more to the left than Mandela, the "Mother of the Nation" has been implicated in a number of crimes committed at the height of civil unrest in South Africa.
Pascale Lamche’s Winnie finally allows the former First Lady to fill in the blanks and defend herself. In spite of constant surveillance, regular detentions, exile, torture and house arrest, Winnie kept the name of an imprisoned Mandela alive and led the equal-rights movement, much to the chagrin of the government and her own political party. In striking archival footage, we witness Madikizela-Mandela’s crowd appeal and see how her strong, uncompromising character earned her enemies on both sides.
While largely on Winnie’s side, the documentary doesn’t go easy on her. Lamche enlists former security agents, retired government officials and political rivals to paint a picture of the Winnie problem. While some gray areas persist, it’s undeniable that the former Mrs. Mandela was the object of systematic defamation, and that her image was tarnished by both slander and sexism.
"Lamche’s film… is inarguably valuable as a historical document, giving its still-fiery 80-year-old subject a generous platform to tell her side of a contentious story."—Guy Lodge, Variety
Directing Award, World Cinema Documentary, Sundance 17