VIFF 2017: Winnie offers painful potrait of Mrs. Mandela

(France/South Africa/Netherlands)

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      “Some people move in and out of history, but Winnie’s a constant.”

      So says the activist daughter of Winifred Madikizela-Mandela, whose reputation as the hands-on stalwart and international face of the African National Congress during her husband’s long imprisonment was tarnished when he got out. This fast-moving, footage-packed Dutch doc shies away from some of the more unpleasant charges hurled against her, but it makes the case that multiple parties—judging from on-camera testimony from both ex-government and ANC officials—believe “this woman” should shoulder the blame for the excessive violence that South African prime minister and president P.W. Botha and others had previously laid at the saintly leader’s door. In the end, both Mr. Mandela and Archbishop Tutu threw her under the postapartheid bus, and it’s painful to watch her publicly excoriated under dubious circumstances. There was almost certainly some corruption on her part, especially under that level of constant pressure. But as Winnie herself tells filmmaker Pascale Lamche, “The whole regime got away with murder—literally!” 



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