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Mandela: SA's greatest son laid to rest (slideshow)
The world watched as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Qunu following a dignified and moving funeral ceremony on Sunday.
A South African producer is turn the story of Nelson Mandela into a big screen epic capturing his life from childhood, to political awareness, 10 000 days of imprisonment and finally freedom.
"It's a very prestigious project, but also a very daunting task. Everybody feels -- and rightly so -- about Mr Mandela and his life. People take possession of it," producer Anant Singh told 'AFP'. "When you have to make a movie out of his life in under three hours it's not easy."
Mandela became the international symbol of resistance to the apartheid system in South Africa. His release after 27 years in jail and eventual transition to the country's first post-apartheid president from 1994 to 1999 is almost the stuff of fairy-tales.
The film will be based on his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom", which carries an emotive account of his first moments of freedom, likely to be at the heart of the new movie.
"I felt -- even at the age of 71 -- that my life was beginning anew. My ten thousand days of imprisonment were at last over," Mandela, now 84, wrote in his book.
"When I was among the crowd, I raised my right fist, and there was a roar. I had not been able to do that for 27 years and it gave me a surge of strength and joy."
Veteran actor Morgan Freeman has won the role of portraying the man who became for many a modern hero, and has acknowledged it is a daunting task.
"I'm honoured and terrified that I won't live up to the job of really presenting this man," he said.
Script writer William Nicholson, who also worked on "Sarafina!", "Gladiator" and "Shadowlands", is adopting "Long Walk to Freedom" into a screenplay to be directed by Indian film-maker Shekhar Kapur, who made his name with "Elizabeth", "Bandit Queen" and "The Four Feathers".
Kapur told a Canadian newspaper he initially turned the project down, but changed his mind after a trip to South Africa. "Somebody had to take the responsibility. He (Mandela) is a spiritual hero like Ghandi, he does not need to fight a bloody battle to win," Kapur said.
Mandela has often been likened to Mahatma Gandhi, who led Indian peaceful resistance to British colonial rule of the sub-continent.
Mandela also believed in non-violent protest, and even after being jailed for 27 years, he welcomed his former jailors into the new "rainbow nation", describing white Afrikaners as "decent people misled by their leaders".
Filming, projected to cost about $40-million, will start mid-year, and the movie could hit theatres late in 2004.
"There are probably going to be three actors -- Mandela as a child, as a teenager and then the young Mandela who comes to Jo'burg. We're in the process of finalising the script," Singh said.
"It may not be in a chronological order, but you would go back to his childhood because he was groomed as a royal lineage. You have to give that whole background including him growing up in Transkei."
Singh has produced or made 45 films in the last 15 years, including South Africa's most prevailing anti-apartheid films such as "Sarafina!" with Whoopi Goldberg and "Cry, the Beloved Country" with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris.
He also produced "Paljas", the first ever South African film submitted for consideration for an Oscar nomination in category Best Foreign Language Film.
His latest project would mainly be shot in South Africa, and the search for local talent for "Long Walk to Freedom" was still on, Singh said.
Several lead roles, such as that of Mandela's controversial second wife, the attractive Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whom he divorced in 1992, and former South African President FW de Klerk, are still up for grabs.
De Klerk played a crucial role in the dismantling of the apartheid system, and announced Mandela's release from prison in a ground-breaking speech in February 1990. The pair was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1993.
"Local auditions will be held. There will be a big component of local and international talent. It's all about who is good for the role," said Singh. - Sapa