EXCLUSIVE: Edward Noeltner’s Beverly Hills-based international sales company is partnering with Richard Claus & Co and South Africa’s Spier Films on the Rivonia Trial drama.

Nelson Mandela

Production on An Act Of Defiance is scheduled to begin on Saturday in South Africa and is scheduled for delivery in spring.

Cinema Management Group president Noeltner and vice-president of sales and operations Dené Anderberg will launch sales in Toronto on world rights excluding South Africa and Flemish-speaking Benelux.

Jean van de Velde directs from his adapted screenplay based on Joel Joffe’s book The State Vs. Nelson Mandela.

The film takes place during Apartheid era South Africa in 1963 as Nelson Mandela and nine others stand trial on charges of committing sabotage and violent acts against the government.

Represented by tenacious lawyer Bram Fisher, Mandela delivers his “I Am Prepared to Die” speech, in which he justifies the existence of the African National Congress and its anti-repression activities.

Peter Paul Muller, Sello Motloung, Gregg Viljoen, Antoinette Louw and Jose Domingos star.

Claus, with whom CMG collaborates on The Little Vampire, produces with Spier Films’ Michael Auret. He produced van de Velde’s 2009 Cannes Un Certain Regard selection The Silent Army as well as The Price Of Sugar, which CMG also acquired.

“The question as to why one person finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right, contrary to the majority of his community, is one I have always found fascinating,” said Auret.

“Bram Fischer, a white Afrikaner from powerful Afrikaner parentage, is one of the unsung heroes of the struggle for freedom in South Africa. His work at the Rivonia Trial ensured that the leaders of the ANC of the time, including Nelson Mandela, lived to fight another day and ultimately lead a new South Africa.”

An Act Of Defiance is my fourth co-production with Michael Auret and Spier Films, and this is my third production where international sales are in the hands of Edward Noeltner and CMG,” said Claus.  “It is great to work with these partners again.”

Noeltner added: “We are very excited to be representing such a passionate dramatic telling of the Rivonia Trial, a key moment in the history of South African democracy.”

Noeltner negotiated the deal with Claus and Michael Auret.