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John Irvin to direct Nelson Mandela guerrilla freedom fighter movie

Story by Jack Foley

JOHN Irvin has announced plans to direct about Nelson Mandela’s years as a guerrilla freedom fighter.

The filmmaker, best known for his acclaimed dramatisation of John le Carr√©’s espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy starring Alec Guinness, announced the drama-documentary last week. It will be calld Mandela’s Gun.

The joint UK-South African production will be notable for being the first to cast a South African actor, Tumisho Masha, in the role of Mandela, South Africa’s first black president.

In recent times he has been played by Morgan Freeman (in Invictus), Dennis Haysbert (in Goodbye Bafana) and Idris Elba (in the forthcoming Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom).

According to Irvin, Mandela’s Gun will contain fresh revelations about Mandela’s “odyssey” across Africa, including his military training and his readiness to kill defenders of South Africa’s apartheid regime.

As part of his extensive research, conducted over three and a half years, Irvin spoke to some of Mandela’s military trainers as well as members of the intelligence services in former British colonies.

He told a press conference in Johannesburg: “I think what our story tells is about the man who was, if needs to be, prepared to blow things up and kill as well as die for a cause and for justice, for dignity.

“He was modelling himself at that time in Ethiopia on Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. This is an aspect of his revolutionary stance which I think deserves recognition.

“He’s still the Mandela that we all cherish, revere and love, but it’s probably a bit more rounded than the version which is absolutely splendid and awesome.”

Mandela’s Gun will shoot on location in Ethiopia, Botswana and Tanzania. It will also be showcased at next year’s Cannes film festival.

Irvin’s previous films have included The Dogs of War and Hamburger Hill.

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