By Simon Dang | The Playlist September 1, 2011 at 1:53AM
Even within the realm of random collaborations and teamings, this one still veers off to the higher end of the scale.
British comedian Steve Coogan, American comeback kid Stephen Dorff and Canadian rapper K'naan will lead the cast for British filmmaker Nick Broomfield's adaptation of Ronan Bennett's "The Catastrophist," described as a love story set against the Belgian Congo's decolonization in the 1960s. Not crazy enough for you? Broomfield is planning to shoot the film in Mwanza, a busy mining town in northern Tanzania, which will make it the first foreign feature to shoot in the East African nation since 1962 when Howard Hawks and John Wayne lensed the jungle epic "Hatari!"
Broomfield made his name as a documentarian with such pics as "Kurt And Courtney" and "Biggie and Tupac" (and has "Sarah Palin: You Betcha!" headed to TIFF) but, lately, has seemingly shared his focus between docs and features (his last being 2007's "Battle For Haditha"). The inspiration for this latest feature reportedly stems from his recent time in Tanzania where he filmed the documentary "Albino United," about an albino soccer team, where he was attracted by the country's "untapped potential."
There's no indication of when production on 'Catastrophist' could begin but, with the slight infrastructure in Tanzania and the extensive planning that would be required, it might be a while before cameras will roll. The film will see Broomfield and his Lafayette Films shingle team with "The Hurt Locker" producer Donall McCusker, Paul Miller of Escape Pictures and Blighty's Channel 4. Here's a full synopsis of the Bennett novel, courtesy of Amazon.
"The Catastrophist" is a haunting novel set in the politically charged landscape of the Belgian Congo just before independence. At its heart is the passion between novelist James Gillespie and the fiery idealistic journalist Ines, whom he follows to Africa as their affair begins to fray. They are as unlike as lovers can be; he is willfully apolitical and desperate for her love, while she is obsessed with the unfolding drama, caught up in history, hero-worship, and soon, a new passion. In a country that will self-destruct upon giving birth to itself, Gillespie is plunged into violence and betrayal, and moved by love to a final act of nobility. In his ravishing U.S. debut, Ronan Bennett delivers heart-stopping suspense, profound moral questioning, and a searing depiction of a doomed love.