Thursday, February 15, 2007

Controversy rocks Berlinale (so what’s new?)

Bille August’s film Goodbye Bafana, an early front-runner for the coveted Golden Bear (see below) has been rocked by controversy at this year's Berlinale, with accusations that James Gregory‘s autobiography on which the film was based were largely fabricated. Gregory’s story recounts a 20-year relationship between himself -- a former prison guard -- and his prisoner -- Nelson Mandela. The film has been warmly received by audiences here in Berlin.

Meanwhile in South Africa, Mandela's official biographer, Anthony Sampson, has accused Gregory of a gross distortion of the truth. According to Sampson, Gregory rarely spoke to Mandela in all those years and he’s claiming Gregory used information from a letter Mandela wrote to him to fabricate his friendship with the civil rights' leader.

With dark clouds rising, insiders say it’s doubtful the jury would risk their own reputation on August’s earnest effort.

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