Magazine article Screen International

Winnie': Sundance Review

Magazine article Screen International

Winnie': Sundance Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Pascale Lamche. France/Netherlands/South Africa, 2017, 98 mins.

If behind many a great man stands a woman to match, then behind Nelson Mandela lurks a complicated and compelling figure indeed. Since her husband's incarceration in 1964, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has been viewed as everything from an activist to an enemy in her native South Africa and around the globe, as Pascale Lamche's thorough documentary details. Above all else, Winnie is driven by its awareness of her role and reputation in history.

Sharing a title with the Jennifer Hudson-starring 2011 biopic, the wide-ranging Winnie marks Lamche's (Black Diamond) return to the Mandela family, following her 2010 television doc Accused #1: Nelson Mandela. Bowing in the world documentary competition at Sundance hould help this second examination of the Mandelas' plight and politics receive broader attention, likely followed by select festival play and small screen viewing via streaming platforms.

"It's like it happened yesterday," Madikizela-Mandela says of her 1958 wedding in one of her many chats to camera, her eyes still fiery yet her voice weary as she recalls pivotal chapters from her life. It is far from surprising that Winnie begins its journey in the obvious place: with Winnie's marriage to Nelson, which would define much of her life, as well as her standing in the public eye. It's truly just a starting point here, however.

Given that her husband remained imprisoned for 27 years while she worked - against fierce oppostion - with the African National Congress to bring their anti-apartheid message to the world, their union proves a catalyst for the documentary, rather than its primary focus. Nelson Mandela casts a considerable and inescapable shadow on Winnie's story, though the words and actions offered by the woman considered the mother of her nation make their own impact. …

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