I was cupping my ears when Clint Eastwood spoke last night about his Nelson Mandela biopic-slash-sports drama, which will begin filming in March with Morgan Freeman in the title role and Matt Damon as rugby player/coach Francois Pienaar. And I didn’t hear Clint say that the title will be The Human Factor, which is what the IMDB thinks it will be.

Eastwood said it might simply be called Mandela or — this is much better — Playing the Enemy, which is the name of John Carlin‘s book about how then-president Mandela’s wily strategy of using a sporting event — the Sprinkboks rugby team in the 1995 World Cup — to try and heal South Africa’s racial divisions.

Eastwood’s pattern of being pretty quick on the turnaround suggests that the Mandela pic will be released sometime at the end of this year for Best Picture contention. Maybe.

Interviewer Leonard Maltin didn’t ask Eastwood about his post-Mandela plan to direct Hereafter, a supernatural thriller in the vein of The Sixth Sense that’s based on a script by Frost-Nixon scribe Peter Morgan.

I was told last night at the Eastwood reception party that Clint may be looking to shoot it sometime next fall, or perhaps in early ’10.

ClintEastwood2 from Hollywood Elsewhere on Vimeo.

When are people going to stop saying “two thousand and…”? It all stems from the cultural dictatorship of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey . We’re now in the year twenty-oh-nine and next year should be referred to twenty-ten. I don’t want to hear that it’s two-thousand ten. Enough of that.