Church Square went back 50 years recently as the cast of the movie Winnie hit town as Hollywood actress and singer Jennifer Hudson walked down the stairs of the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, bystanders were transported back to South Africa's apartheid past, with white policemen guarding the court.

Director Darrell J Roodt - who also directed Cry, The Beloved Country and Sarafina! -his crew and about 300 extras were on Church Square shooting scenes of Nelson Mandela, being played by Terrence Howard, where he burnt his passbook during the Defiance Campaign and to where prisoners walked during the Rivonia trial.

When it was announced last year that Hudson was to play the lead role of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the Creative Workers Union of South Africa argued that using foreign actors to tell South African stories undermined efforts to develop a national film industry.

But yesterday the extras on set were thrilled about rubbing shoulders with Hollywood actors. Tumelo Maile said: "This is a great platform for us. We have been given an opportunity to showcase our talent alongside two Hollywood actors." The crew will move to Joburg for three weeks, then go to Cape Town.