McQueen to direct 'Fela' film

Dec. 10, 2009 at 10:44 PM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Focus Features says it has tapped British filmmaker Steve McQueen to direct a movie about African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who died in 1997.

McQueen is an artist whose first film was 2008's "Hunger."

Variety said he is co-writing a script with Biyi Bandele based on Michael Veal's book "Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon."

Although Fela's life story is also the subject of the new Broadway musical "Fela!" the two projects are not related.

Known for his Afrobeat musical style, Fela was also famous for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria, the entertainment industry trade newspaper noted.

"Fela might be the most globally influential pop artist outside the Beatles in the last 50 years," Focus chief James Schamus told Variety. "The Broadway show is pure joy, but Steve and Biyi's vision is very cinematic and distinctive. Fela was a revolutionary figure in world culture, and Steve is an artist who had a strong vision of politics and the world even before he made his first film. They are kindred spirits."

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