Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “The Equalizer”) has signed on to direct a new independent documentary about the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, with production already underway.
Bearing the working title “Troublemaker: The Story Behind the Mandela Tapes,” the documentary will have never-before-heard interviews with Mandela, as well as with his longtime cellmate Mac Maharaj, who serves as an executive producer on the film.
Maharaj shared a cell with Mandela for 12 of the activist lawyer’s 27 years as a prisoner on Robben Island and helped transcribe and smuggled Mandela’s autobiography out of prison.
“It’s an honor to bring to the screen the untold story of Mandela, a man I’ve revered my entire life,” Fuqua said in a statement. “For decades, Mandela and his comrades were put through the most inhumane conditions imaginable. Yet they came out of jail with love and forgiveness in their hearts, and rather than seeking vengeance, they sought to unite the country.”
“His compassion and inner strength enabled Mandela to make meaningful change,” Fuqua added. “This film will investigate how Mandela came through his ordeals with his humanity intact, and reveal the tough and shrewd politician behind his iconic ‘nice guy’ persona. I’m incredibly fortunate to be partnered on this project with Mac Maharaj, whose experiences, intelligence and encyclopedic memory of his years alongside Mandela are invaluable.”
During their imprisonment, Maharaj also helped Mandela communicate with other African National Congress. He later took a role as a government minister after Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
“I have longed to see the story of Nelson Mandela, and his decades-long fight and sacrifice for freedom, equality and justice told in an authentic, complex and revelatory way,” Maharaj said. “It is a story that is more relevant to humanity today, than ever. I am thrilled that a director of Antoine Fuqua’s skill, creativity, and integrity has agreed to take on this challenging task.”
British production company Lorton Entertainment is financing the project with Arthur Landon and Mark Bauch producing for the studio. Maharaj executive produces alongside Gordon Metz, Hipster Media’s Markus Davies and Zig Zag Productions’ Matt Graff and Danny Fenton.
Fuqua’s past documentary work includes the TV docs “American Dream/American Knightmare” about the rise and fall of convicted rap producer Suge Knight, the HBO Muhammad Ali doc “What’s My Name” and the Hulu docuseries “Legacy: The True Story of the L.A. Lakers.” Along with “Troublemaker,” Fuqua is set to direct the Lionsgate biopic “Michael,” which will see Jaafar Jackson portray his late uncle Michael Jackson, with Colman Domingo as the pop legend’s father.
Fuqua is repped by WME and LBI Entertainment. The documentary was first reported by Variety.