Winnie, Darrell Roodt’s highly anticipated biopic of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has been selected as the opening film for the eighth Montreal International Black Film Festival on 19 September.

Winnie

A South Africa-Canada co-production, Winnie was shot in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Montreal. The movie stars Jennifer Hudson as Madikizela-Mandela and Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela.

Based on Winnie Mandela: A Life, a biography by Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob, Winnie takes an intimate and in-depth look at Madikizela-Mandela, one of the world's most famous female activists, exploring both her personal and political life. She survived her husband's imprisonment, continuous harassment by the security police, banishment to a small Free State town, betrayal by friends and allies, and more than a year in solitary confinement – all the while keeping the name of Nelson Mandela alive. A sensitive and balanced portrayal, the film nevertheless thoroughly investigates and honestly examines the controversies that dogged Madikizela-Mandela in recent years.

The film is directed and co-written by South African screen veteran Darrell Roodt, whose film Yesterday was nominated for an Academy Award in Best Foreign Language Film category in 2005. Roodt made an international name for himself with his debut feature A Place of Weeping (1986), a passionate condemnation of apartheid. Educated at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, he gained further acclaim for The Stick (1988), another look at the anti-apartheid struggle. In 1990, he made his first film with American backing, Jobman (1990).

Roodt's best-known film is his adaptation of the anti-apartheid stage musical Sarafina! (1992) starring Whoopi Goldberg. He has made around 30 films and TV series among which Cry, the Beloved Country starring James Earl Jones and Richard Harris (1995). He has since alternated between making films in Hollywood and South Africa.

Winnie was in the official selection of both the Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.