Talk about perfect casting. We’ve mentioned before that Hunger director Steve McQueen is making a film about the life of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musician / activist who essentially invented Afrobeat. Now there’s word that Kuti will be played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Because, really, was there anyone else who could take the part? Read More »


When Focus Features announced in January the intent to make a biopic based on the life of Nigerian band leader and activist Fela Kuti, I was immediately intrigued. Would the film look  more at his music, or his status as sort of an emergent voice of the people? A mix of both is likely (and necessary) but now that we know the film’s director, I expect the political overtones will take priority. Steve McQueen, director of the film Hunger, will take the reigns, according to Variety. This is great and interesting news; now I can’t wait to see who he casts, and to what extent he’s known in North America.

When this was first announced, Fela Kuti was primarily a name known to music geeks and lovers of afrobeat, the dance-inducing form he invented. But now there’s a Broadway musical that portrays his life and work in a massively upbeat manner. That’s not the basis for this film, which will instead draw from the book Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon, by Michael Veal. Fela’s history is too detailed and incredible to recount here; suffice to say that if cast properly he’ll be a wildly captivating subject for the screen. Doing his music justice will take some real magic, though. Driven in part by drummer Tony Allen, Fela’s primordial afrobeat tunes were equal parts jazz, funk and circular rhythm, overlaid with spoken/sung tales of injustice. Check out Fela in action here.

After the break, some Fela tunes, and news on An Education director Lone Scherfig‘s next film. Read More »