Only a handful of South African actors have played Nelson Mandela on the screen – big or small.
Names that immediately spring to mind include Lindani Nkosi, who portrays the anti-apartheid activist in the 1950s in the movie Drum (2004), based on the life and times of investigative journalist Henry “Mr Drum” Nxumalo.
There’s also Tumisho Masha in Mandela’s Gun (2016), about the Nelson Mandela of the early 1960s who was disillusioned with civil disobedience and decided to take up the armed struggle.
An Act of Defiance: The Bram Fischer Story (2017) is a biopic of anti-apartheid activist, lawyer and communist Bram Fischer.
It highlights the Nelson Mandela of the Rivonia Trial (1963-64) and explores the relationship between the two.
One is a white Afrikaner who was born into white privilege but sacrificed all that in favour of the anti-apartheid struggle.
The other is a Xhosa prince from the Thembu royal house, incarcerated for attempting to topple the government.
In An Act of Defiance, Mandela and Fischer are portrayed by Sello Motloung and Peter Paul Muller.
The latter is a Dutch-born actor. The film is a Dutch/South African collaboration and premiered in October last year at the Cape Town International Film Market and Festival and won the 2017 Dorfman Best Film Award at the UK Jewish Film Festival.
It also premiered at the Movies that Matter Film Festival in The Hague, in Holland, where enthusiasts declared it the best movie.
Motloung has distinguished himself on the screen in a number of memorable roles. His first lead role on television was in Nna, Sajene Kokobela (I, Sergeant Kokobela, 2001), a Sesotho detective series.
He had previously co-starred in Mtutuzeli Matshoba’s award-winning film Chikin Biznis: The Whole Story (1999), a warmly humorous story.
It won the Grand Prix – the highest accolade – at the Vues D’Afrique film festival in Montreal, Canada, in April 1999.
An Act of Defiance this year won the Jury Prize for best feature at the Teaneck International Film Festival in New Jersey, US, and best feature at the Dayton Jewish Film Festival in Ohio. It was screened at the Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank this week.
Hopefully it will also be taken to major cinema houses across the country as well as enjoy television screening.