Action film director to make documentary on rediscovered Mandela interviews

A feature documentary will focus on newly rediscovered audio interviews with former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Troublemaker: The Story Behind The Mandela Tapes, a working title, is from director Antoine Fuqua, 58, who has made the action films King Arthur and Olympus Has Fallen along with The Equalizer movie series.

Fuqua, who also directed the documentaries What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali on the boxer and American Dream/American Knightmare about music executive Marion “Suge” Knight Jr, said he has “revered” Mandela his entire life.

Emmy-winning director Antoine Fuqua and executive producer Mac Maharaj
Emmy-winning director Antoine Fuqua and executive producer Mac Maharaj (Troublemaker: The Story Behind The Mandela Tapes/PA)

“For decades Mandela and his comrades were put through the most inhumane conditions imaginable,” he added.

“Yet they came out of jail with love and forgiveness in their hearts, and rather than seeking vengeance they sought to unite the country.

“His compassion and inner strength enabled Mandela to make meaningful change.

“This film will investigate how Mandela came through his ordeals with his humanity intact, and reveal the tough and shrewd politician behind his iconic nice guy persona.”

Mac Maharaj, who as a member of the African National Congress (ANC) resisted apartheid in South Africa and was in Robben Island prison with human rights campaigner Mandela, will serve as executive producer.

He transcribed and smuggled Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, out of jail and served in his government as minister of transport.

Mr Maharaj, who was a spokesman for Jacob Zuma when he was the South African president, said he has longed for Mandela’s “decades-long fight and sacrifice for freedom, equality and justice told in an authentic, complex and revelatory way”.

“It is a story that is more relevant to humanity today than ever. I am thrilled that a director of Antoine Fuqua’s skill, creativity and integrity has agreed to take on this challenging task,” he added.

Mac Maharaj is executive producing
Mac Maharaj is executive producing the documentary (Troublemaker: The Story Behind The Mandela Tapes/PA)

The project, financed by Lorton Entertainment who made the film James Blunt: One Brit Wonder, Apple TV+’s Boom! Boom!: The World Vs Boris Becker and Disney+’s documentary series Coleen Rooney: The Real Wagatha Story, began in South Africa last year.

Fuqua has filmed interviews with several of Mandela’s former activists and “key figures” from the country.

The film will show Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, as a “tough revolutionary and complex human being” along with “his almost supernatural capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness”.

South Africans Gordon Metz and Hipster Media’s Markus Davies, and Matt Graff and Danny Fenton for Zig Zag Productions are also among the executive producers.

Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 to forge a new democratic South Africa by promoting forgiveness and reconciliation before becoming president in 1994 after South Africa’s first all-race democratic elections.

He died aged 95 in 2013 and his stadium memorial service was attended by the then US president Barack Obama.

Producers Arthur Landon for Lorton Entertainment, and Mark Bauch said: “During a time of political uncertainty and unrest around the world, this film aims to rekindle the influence of a truly great leader and show how a humble but determined lawyer became one of the greatest politicians in history.

“We are incredibly fortunate and excited to be partnered with Antoine, who has an incredible vision to show the world a side of Mandela we’ve never seen before, and Mac Maharaj, a true South African icon who fought the struggle alongside Mandela, and is a resource unlike any other.”