Former South African President F.W. de Klerk reflects on his presidency and apartheid in a new documentary film

The new film “The Other Man” explores the personal and professional life of former South African President F.W. de Klerk and his role in ending apartheid.

(FIRST RUN FEATURES) – For many Nelson Mandela is the reason apartheid ended in South African with little known about the other man who helped negotiate the end of apartheid and released Mandela from prison in 1990.

Filmmaker Nicolas Rossier is telling the story of former South African President F.W. de Klerk in his documentary “The Other Man.”

“I was hesitating between two titles. It was like either ‘Last White Man in Power’ or ‘The Other Man’ because there’s Mandela and there is always photos of de Klerk and Mandela, but every time there is a story on Mandela, de Klerk comes one or two minutes in the whole program. I said, well why, I would like to understand what really happened with this guy. Why he changed, why did he change? And so the film is really and expiration of that legacy.”

For Rossier, making the film was a chance to share a side of de Klerk that most do not know.

“There was basically an opportunity and I think de Klerk seized it. But what was interesting is nobody knew his background, nobody knew where he came from. Nobody really knew some of the personal stories around him, you know, about his wife, his father, his brother and I felt this was really interesting to understand the story of the transition.”

The subject of de Klerk comes with controversy, which the director said was only scary at the start.

“Most of the stories I treat are always worrying me at the beginning because these are stories that are not really mainstream at the time. Why I do these stories there is always – they’re always like controversial subjects. But as an independent filmmaker, that’s why I have an advantage I can take time and try to explore things that typically not other filmmakers wouldn’t explore. And I think I did it in a very balanced way.”

Rossier hopes the movie will be the anchor for debates about racism and the legacy of apartheid.

“In a sense I think it’s going to be a film that’s going to have, you know, many people are going to watch over and over not just from a conflict resolution perspective but also because of, you know, the racism in our society. And the fact that we haven’t even discussed it like the South African society had discussed in 1994 into 1996. There was a truth and reconciliation conference which we’ve never had here.”

Mandela and de Klerk shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for ending minority white rule and laying the foundations of democracy. De Klerk served as one of two deputy presidents in Mandela’s government after the African National Congress won the 1994 elections.

“The Other Man” is now playing in select U.S. cities.