EXCLUSIVE: Gotham Award winner Dawn Porter (Luther: Never Too Much) will direct and produce a documentary about one of the most iconic, politically-charged partnerships in history: the remarkable, largely untold story of Nelson and Winnie Mandela. She’ll also produce through her Trilogy Films, alongside the Schultz Family Foundation.
Based on Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage, a book by noted South African writer and scholar Jonny Steinberg, the film will explore the Mandelas’ profound bond and how their marriage was inextricably entangled with the struggle against apartheid. The film promises an intimate portrayal of Nelson and Winnie’s marriage, delving into their vehement and volatile connection from their early years to their mutual goal of dismantling apartheid. Their journey culminates in Nelson Mandela’s historic election as South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
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The project marks the Schultz Family Foundation’s first venture into storytelling projects — across scripted and documentary films and series, podcasts, and books — linked to its mission of creating greater opportunity, accessible to all.
“Creating a film about Nelson Mandela’s life is an extraordinary privilege, and I am genuinely thrilled about the collaboration with the Schultz Family Foundation and Trilogy Films,” Porter told Deadline. “Nelson Mandela’s journey exemplifies the resilience and capacity for change within the human spirit. We aspire to share this incredible odyssey with audiences around the globe. But his story is incomplete without exploring the relationship with his most influential and intimate advisor – his wife Winnie. There can be no definitive Mandela story without understanding the complicated dynamics of their relationship.”
Added Howard Schultz, co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation and chairman emeritus of Starbucks Corporation: “At its heart, Winnie and Nelson is a complicated story of leadership, conflict, love, and extraordinary sacrifice in the face of unfathomable brutality where the future of a democracy was at stake. My wife Sheri and I feel privileged and humbled by the opportunity to partner with such a respected and talented director as Dawn to bring this film to life. We believe in the power of human-centered, aspirational storytelling to nurture our common bonds, foster our shared humanity, and inspire the next generation of leaders, and we look forward to pursuing other projects across many different formats aligned with our family’s philanthropic work and mission.”
Founded by Porter in 2009, Trilogy Films’ focus is on non-fiction content that tells untold stories, shares new perspectives, and reveals the complex humanity of some of history’s most iconic figures. Porter’s acclaimed films include Gideon’s Army (2013), Spies of Mississippi (2014), and Bobby Kennedy for President (2018). Her latest work, Luther: Never Too Much, debuted to rave reviews at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. The year prior, she earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for both Lady Bird Diaries and Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court, seeing the latter also garner an Independent Spirit Award nomination.
Porter is repped by CAA.
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