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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a Nelson Mandela biopic presented at Toronto Film Festival, does not shy away from the less flattering aspects of his character, according to British star Idris Elba.
“It was important we had both sides, the good and the bad,” said Idris Elba.
Early scenes in Justin Chadwick’s film show Nelson Mandela as a womanizer who was violent to his first wife Evelyn.
“I didn’t want to deface Mr. Mandela in any way,” Idris Elba continued.
“But I didn’t want to portray him in a way that wasn’t honest.”
Idris Elba was speaking at the Toronto Film Festival, where Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom had its world premiere this weekend.
Based on the former South African president’s autobiography, the film charts his early life as a lawyer, his political activism and the 27 years of imprisonment that preceded his democratic election in 1994.
Naomie Harris plays Nelson Mandela’s second wife Winnie in Justin Chadwick’s two-and-a-half hour drama.
Nelson Mandela new biopic does not shy away from the less flattering aspects of the character
The film has had a mixed reception from critics, with one calling it “more dutifully reverential than revelatory or exciting”.
“We’ve seen the saintly Mandela we all know and love,” continued Idris Elba, who did not meet “Madiba” before embarking on the project.
“It was important for us to take the audience on a journey prior to that and understand who he was.”
Nelson Mandela, now 95, was released from hospital last week after three months of treatment for a recurring lung infection.
“Like everybody I’ve been very concerned for his health but I’ve been keeping optimistic,” Idris Elba told reporters on Sunday.
According to Justin Chadwick, Idris Elba was the right person for the biopic despite being from England and bearing little physical resemblance to its subject.
“There were other obvious choices, but Idris was the brave choice,” he said.
“He doesn’t look like Madiba, but we weren’t going for a lookalike, soundalike version.”
“Idris managed to capture the Mandela magic,” agreed Terry Pheto, the South African actress who plays Evelyn in the film.
Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, David Harewood and Sidney Poitier are among the others to have portrayed Nelson Mandela on film and television.
Idris Elba, whose other films include summer blockbusters Thor and Pacific Rim, has been singled out for praise by critics who have seen the film in Toronto.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is one of several Toronto titles this year to draw their inspiration from real-life figures.
Julian Assange, Jimi Hendrix and Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts also feature in films in this year’s line-up.
The launch of Justin Chadwick’s film coincides with the UK release of Diana, a biographical drama about Princess Diana, that drew a withering response from the British media.
All The Wrong Reasons, a film starring late Glee actor Cory Monteith, has won a top award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
First-time director Gia Milani, collected the $10,000 Discovery Award for the movie, All The Wrong Reasons, on Monday.
The drama, which is an exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder, beat 27 other films to claim the prize.
Cory Monteith, 31, who played Finn Hudson in Glee, died in July from a heroin and alcohol overdose.
All The Wrong Reasons, starring late Glee actor Cory Monteith, has won Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival
In All The Wrong Reasons, Cory Monteith plays a shop manager whose wife (Karine Vanasse) is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
The film, which had its world premiere on Sunday, also stars Emily Hampshire and Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl).
Gia Milani told Variety that the story was inspired by a close friend who is a member of the Canadian armed forces and suffered from mental problems after returning from a tough tour overseas.
The drama, filmed during the summer of 2012 in Nova Scotia, Canada, took five years to make.
Another film featuring Cory Monteith premiered in Toronto on Monday.
Called McCanick, the movie is a US crime drama, in which Cory Monteith plays a recently released convict.
Toronto Film Festival will conclude on Sunday with the film Life of Crime, based on a novel by Elmore Leonard and starring Jennifer Aniston.
Kristen Stewart claimed that she and Robert Pattinson are “going to be fine”, and she reinforced her statement yesterday when she jetted out of Toronto.
Kristen Stewart, 22, was wearing a baseball cap belonging to her estranged boyfriend.
She sported the Baltimore Orioles hat backwards as she prepared to head home following Toronto Film Festival.
Kristen Stewart teamed the cap with a white tank top, skinny jeans and Converse trainers.
She attempted to keep a low profile in sunglasses as she headed to catch her flight and listened to music while walking through the airport.
Kristen Stewart was wearing a baseball cap belonging to her estranged boyfriend Robert Pattinson as she jetted out of Toronto
The actress made her return to the spotlight following her cheating scandal with Snow White and the Hunstman director Rupert Sanders at the event, where she was promoting her movie On The Road.
And it seems Kristen Stewart is keen to keep Robert Pattinson close as she also wore an item of his when travelling to Canada ahead of the Festival.
Kristen Stewart had dressed in an Irie T-shirt belonging to her Twilight co-star when she flew to Toronto from Los Angeles on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Kristen Stewart alluded to her beau for the first time at a press conference, following photos published of her canoodling with Rupert Sanders six weeks ago.
“We’re going to be fine,” she said when asked about the potentially awkward public appearances the twosome will have to make in November while promoting The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
“We’re totally fine,” she added, as an afterthought.
It’s not clear about the status of their relationship, although they are said to have moved out of the house they shared together in Los Angeles and have both been laying low.
Kristen Stewart has since reportedly purchased a luxurious Malibu beach home for a cool $4.8 million.
Venice Film Festival’s new artistic director Alberto Barbera has pledged to revive the event’s facilities and fortunes as this year’s festival gets under way.
There are questions over whether the event can continue to attract top talent and retain its position as one of the movie world’s leading festivals.
Alberto Barbera said a major new cinema complex would be built despite being abandoned in 2011 due to lack of funds.
He said: “We cannot host a modern event and attract film-makers without it.
“So yes, it has to happen. It was one of the conditions for me taking the role.
“We know we have this reputation for quality. It’s our greatest asset, and it’s a privileged position.”
Venice Film Festival's new artistic director Alberto Barbera has pledged to revive the event's facilities and fortunes as this year's festival gets under way
Alberto Barbera has cut the number of films being screened and has faced criticism over the number of stars attending this year.
Venice has come under increasing competition from the Toronto Film Festival, which overlaps with its Italian rival. Since the economic crash of 2008, Hollywood studios and celebrities have often preferred to show their movies there.
A new, state of the art cinema complex was due to open in Venice in 2012, but work was shelved last year when asbestos was discovered. That left a 100 ft crater next to the Palazzo Del Cinema.
But Alberto Barbera promised the new buildings would be finished by 2015.
“It’s a deal, it is signed and sealed,” he said.
“We will start work either later on in the year or in 2013.”
Local authorities, including the city of Venice, will now fund the renovations, he added.
Venice Film Festival is the oldest in the world, and will show more than 60 world premieres over the next 10 days, including Wednesday’s screening of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, starring Kate Hudson and British actor Riz Ahmed.
Alberto Barbera, who used to head Italy’s Museum of Cinema at Turin, also said he had other plans to change the event, including introducing a five-day film market starting this year, and giving a first time film-making prize, which would involve the festival funding three movies by new directors.
The Observer film critic Jason Solomons blamed the exodus of top films and stars on the high cost of conducting press interviews in the city and accommodating film talent.
“A few years ago, Joe Wright’s Atonement had its world premiere at Venice,” he said.
“Now he’s made Anna Karenina, again starring Keira Knightley. It’s a period film all about decadence and decay, and it belongs in Venice. It should be here. But they can’t afford to launch it here now.”
Another problem, according to Jason Solomons, was the recent closure of the Hotel Des Bains on the Lido island – the setting for the 1971 film Death in Venice. The hotel is being turned into luxury flats.
“Death in Venice says it all,” Jason Solomons continues.
“By closing the Des Bains, the stars have nowhere to stay.”
Critics, though, still say they rate the festival highly. As well as The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the event will also show Tree of Life director Terence Malick’s To The Wonder and Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep.
Meanwhile, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix will star in The Master, the story of a religious cult during World War Two, directed by Magnolia‘s Paul Thomas Anderson.
“They’ve actually gone against the grain by reducing, not increasing, the amount of films on offer, and that’s brave,” suggested The Independent’s Kaleem Aftab.
“It looks like less will be more from now on in order for Venice to overcome the impression that this is a festival on the wane. But on paper, it’s delivered some big names this year.”
The Venice Film Festival runs until 8 September.
Science-fiction thriller Looper will launch this year’s Toronto International Film Festival in Canada on 6 September.
Directed by Rian Johnson, it features The Dark Knight Rises actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an assassin ordered to kill an older version of himself.
Bruce Willis and Britain’s Emily Blunt co-star in the time-travel film.
It is one of a number of titles to have its world premiere at the event, which runs this year until 16 September.
Science-fiction thriller Looper will launch this year's Toronto International Film Festival in Canada on 6 September
Others include Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of the David Mitchell novel starring Hugh Grant and Halle Berry that was partly shot in Scotland.
Ben Affleck drama Argo, about the rescue of US diplomats from Iran in 1979, will also make its debut.
So will an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s 1980 Booker winner Midnight’s Children, directed by India’s Deepa Mehta.
New versions of Dickens’s Great Expectations, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are also in the line-up.
Toronto is now the leading film festival in North America and often serves as a launch pad for high-profile awards contenders.
The event runs concurrently with the Venice Film Festival in Italy, which opens on 29 August with Mira Nair’s film of 2007 novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
That film will also screen at Toronto, as will Jayne Mansfield’s Car – a family drama from the actor and film-maker Billy Bob Thornton that was seen earlier this year at Berlin.
Another actor turned film-maker – one Dustin Hoffman – will unveil his directorial debut Quartet during the busy Toronto showcase.
Costa-Gavras, Neil Jordan, Robert Redford and David O. Russell are among the other notable directors to have films in the programme.
The festival will also feature documentaries about Marilyn Monroe and the late Monty Python member Graham Chapman.