Dec 22, 2010

Hollywood worships Fela Kuti with a movie

Seems like watching Michael Veal’s "Fela!" co-produced by Jay Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett is not enough. The $11 million "Fela!" backed by Jay Z, Will Smith and co be a helping hand on the movie of the story of the legendary Fela Kuti by Hollywood film production company.

It all started when the off-broadway was produced in 2008 which features Sahr Ngaujah as Fela. The 2008 off-broadway production received positive review generally from critics like New York Times as well as numerous awards.

Later on, it was premiered on Broadway as a result of the success the off-broadway attained. This time, Nguajah and Kevin Mambo played the Fela’s role since the role was highly demanded. Rumour has it that, D’banj was also screened for Fela’s role in Fela! But was screened out.

The Fela! Broadway which was directed by Bill T. Jones reveals the story of the Nigeria activist and musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Hollywood and the American music industry have been promoting black culture in appreciation of the influence its having on the American entertainment industry. Fela, who has influenced hiphop has got acts like Talib Kweli, Mos def, Common, Alicia keys sampling his music and voice on songs. Lately, he has been compared with Bob Marley as both are seen as human right activist popularizing two main genre of music, reggae and afro beat respectively.

The movie which will be directed by Biyi Bandele and Steve McQueen, the producer of the popular film, “hunger” will be co-produced by James Schamus, who said ‘Fela might be the most globally influential pop artist outside the beatles in the last 50 years. The Broadway show is pure joy, but Steve and Biyi’s vision is very cinematic and distinctive. Fela was a revolution figure in world culture’.

The producers of the movie claimed that Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nigerian-British actor will be playing the role of Fela. Ejiofor who worked with Angelina Jolie in ‘Salt‘ will be learning to play piano and saxophone to prepare him for the role of Fela.

Its good to hear that Fela! Broadway was nominated for ads revival of a musical at the Tony Awards with 10 other nominations. The national tour of the Broadway starts in the fall of 2011 as it will be staged in London by November this year.

by Sonde Jimmy


Nigerian British Hollywood actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor will soon don the role of late Afro Beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, for an upcoming bio-film of Fela, to be directed by Golden Camera winning artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen.

The film will be based on the 1997 book "Fela: The Life and Times Of An African Musical Icon", by Michael Veal.

It's reported that Chiwetel Ejiofor began learning to play the saxophone and piano while on the set of "Salt", to help fully master the upcoming role.

Influenced by the Black Power movement in America, the late great Fela was a key supporter of human rights in Nigeria in the 1970s thru 1980s, releasing several songs which attacked military dictatorship, government and corporate misrule as well as citizen ignorance, in Nigeria and Africa.

Since his death in 1997, his influence grown even more, globally.

It will be remembered that the story of Fela's life has already been adapted into a musical, "FELA!", which was started off-Broadway in 2008 and is currently receiving more acclaim than any other musical this season, with a recent 11 Tony nominations.

The new Fela movie with Chiwetel Ejiofor will be released possibly in 2011 or 2012.


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