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Why should Nelson Mandela be played by a South African acto

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:40 pm    Post subject: Why should Nelson Mandela be played by a South African acto Reply with quote

div class="track"img alt="" src="http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.22.4/87473?ns=guardianpageName=Why+should+Nelson+Mandela+be+played+by+a+South+African+actor%3F+%7C+Zukiswa+%3AArticle%3A1720088ch=Comment+is+freec3=GU.co.ukc4=Nelson+Mandela%2CFilm%2CSouth+Africa+%28News%29c5=Not+commercially+usefulc6=Zukiswa+Wannerc7=12-Mar-20c8=1720088c9=Articlec10=Commentc11=Comment+is+freec13=c25=Comment+is+freec30=contentc42=Comment+is+freeh2=GU%2FComment+is+free%2FComment+is+free%2Fblog%2FComment+is+free" width="1" height="1" //divp class="standfirst"Must all German film roles be acted by Germans? Of course not. The idea that British-born Idris Elba can't play Mandela is daft/ppI was a South African tween growing up in Zimbabwe when my mother acted (or rather, appeared on screen for 45 seconds) in a a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093490/" title=""made for television film starring Danny Glover as Nelson Mandela/a and Alfre Woodard as Winnie. In her role, my Zimbabwean mother knocks on the window and reminds the American actress about a women's meeting ending with a raised thumb and that very South African expression, "sharp"./pp/ppIf some arguments are to be believed, my mother, Alfre, Danny and the many other non-South Africans who acted in this film should not have taken the roles they did, and instead South African actors should have. And the film should have been made in South Africa. It was not; it was shot in Zimbabwe. South Africa was burning at the time. The only blacks many white South Africans knew were their domestic workers. Mandela was banned and in prison. And a fair share of young blacks in the townships probably thought, owing to the graffiti in many a neighbourhood, that Mandela's first name was Free./pp/ppSince my mother's cameo role in a film that got us new curtains in the living room, the poster boy for political prisoners has emerged from jail. South Africa is free and many a film has been made about or with Nelson Mandela. In the memorable ones, though, none of them have starred a South African in the lead role – another recent example being a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/feb/04/invictus-review" title=""Invictus/a, with Morgan Freeman starring as the international statesman – and it has recently come to the attention of the world that the a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/19/mandela-idris-elba-south-africa" title=""British actor Idris Elba is to take on the role of Nelson Mandela/a in a biopic of the statesman's memoirs a href="http://www.guardianbookshop.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9780349106533" title=""Long Walk to Freedom/a. Twenty-two years after Mandela came out of prison, and 18 years since South Africa became independent, is Hollywood practicing cultural imperialism by appropriating South African stories while disenfranchising South African actors?/pp/ppAsked why Elba and not a South African was cast in the lead role, the producer is alleged to have claimed that South African actors lacked the necessary inches to play Mandela. While it is true many men of the south are not very tall, Yule Masiteng and Trevor Shabalala, much older than Elba to be sure, but still great South African actors who also happen to be vertically gifted, came to mind. On second thoughts, though, I wondered why he even needed to explain himself./pp/ppMandela is internationally known. Idris Elba, while not as famous as Mandela, also has some clout on the international scene as an actor. So why should he not play Mandela? South Africa is full of multimillionaires and billionaires, and while they are happy to have a portrait of themselves and Mandela in their offices, they did not think of investing in this story – or any other South African stories. If my fellow countrymen and women feel strongly about South African stories being acted by non-South Africans, they should have financed the films themselves. Whether we want to admit it or not, financing a film is a business decision as much as it is an appreciation of the art of acting. We cannot then cry foul when Hollywood casts whoever they feel would give them more bang for their buck. Acting is also an art form and the wider the range of an actor, the better (s)he is. It would be a sad day at the movies if all roles with German characters were acted by Germans, all roles with Jamaicans were acted by Jamaicans, and all roles with Palestinian characters were acted by Palestinians. Where would be the acting in that?/pp/ppIf Meryl Streep, an American, can a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jan/05/the-iron-lady-film-review" title=""take on the role of Maggie Thatcher/a, then certainly Idris Elba can be Nelson Mandela. Suggesting that only a South African should be cast in this role is impractical and borders on being xenophobic. As a film lover, I am less worried that Elba is cast as Mandela than I am about the film not being half as good as the statesman's memoirs./pp/pp• Follow Comment is free on Twitter a href="http://twitter.com/#!/commentisfree" title=""@commentisfree/a/pdiv class="related" style="float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;"ullia href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/nelsonmandela"Nelson Mandela/a/lilia href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/southafrica"South Africa/a/li/ul/divdiv class="author"a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/zukiswa-wanner"Zukiswa Wanner/a/divbr/div class="terms"a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk"guardian.co.uk/a copy; 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our a href="http://users.guardian.co.uk/help/article/0,,933909,00.html"Terms Conditions/a | a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/help/feeds"More Feeds/a/divp style="clear:both" /

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