I recently wrote about an ImagiNations project (created by DRC filmmaker Djo Tunda Wa Munga and producer Steve Markovitz), which I assigned to Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, titled Inspector Lou. However, it turns out that the project actually belongs to Djo Munga; it's the title of his upcoming China/Congolese crime drama I've written about a few times in the past.
To catch you up…
Munga is the writer & director of maybe the highest profile film last year from Africa (outside of Africa) Viva Riva!; and Steve Markovitz was one of Viva Riva!'s producers.
Munga and Markovitz paired up to produce a diverse slate of projects, and this new initiative (ImagiNations) is one of them – a Pan-African project in which a series of six feature films based on contemporary African literature will be produced.
And as previously revealed, Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu (from the first Focus Features Africa First class, and director of the acclaimed sci-fi short Pumzi, which Markovitz also exec produced), is one of the filmmakers already attached to helm one of those adaptations.
In the new video interview below (posted here about a week ago) producer Markovitz spoke further about the above initiative (and more), mentioning what I thought was the title of the work that Wanuri Kahiu would be helming as 1 of the 6 in the ImagiNations project – a book called Inspector Lou (a Google search on that title returned nothing helpful at the time).
Markovitz doesn't reveal anything more about the project, except to boast about Wanuri's talent, saying that she has "great vision," and he believes she just needs an opportunity in the form of a strong feature film (like this one I suppose) to really catapult her onto cinema's world stage.
So, yeah, I assumed Inspector Lou was her project; but, as I learned today (h/t the Black Film Center/Archive), it's actually Djo's China/Congolese crime drama instead – a project he's been shopping around for financing since last year.
And courtesy of South Africa's City Press, we have more info on the project…
First, the story, which reads:
A Chinese detective whose partner was killed 15 years ago by a gangster finds out that the killer is living in the DRC. He flies to Kinshasa to take revenge, working with a local cop. He soon discovers, however, that his enemy has become a major crimelord.
Next, Munga and Markovitz hope to start production on Inspector Lou late next year, adding that "the body count, you can be sure, will be considerable."
The fact that the film is a Chinese co-production is by design, as Markovitz states, “In the rest of the world, cinema is lagging, but in China and Africa it’s really just starting out… China is building 3,000 state of the art cinemas a year. They’re the second biggest market in the world after America in terms of dollar value. Soon they’ll be the biggest. If you have a film screened there the return at the box office is significant. Outside of America, Titanic 3D did more in China than the rest of world put together.”
And both he and Munga hope that Inspector Lou will be just as appealing to Chinese audiences as it will be to Africans.
Djo adds “It’s a genre movie and I love genre movies because I think they are a great vehicle for talking about a society and its people… The biggest change in Congo in the last 10 years has been all these Chinese people coming into the country. I didn’t want to do a stereotypical story about the ‘bad Chinese stealing African resources.’ This won’t be a political film, but a film about the stories of these people, how they have changed Congo and how Congo has changed them.”
And it's worth noting that via their production company Suka! Productions, the pair recently teamed up with 234 Media (who they previously collaborated with to release Viva Riva! in an unprecedented 19-country theatrical release in Africa) to form a new production/distribution alliance that will see feature films produced by Munga and Markovitz distributed by 234 Media, throughout Africa.
Gotta love the forward motion… now all I need Djo to do is introduce me to one of the stars of Viva Riva! – Manie Malone.
Watch and listen below (courtesy of Smart Monkey TV):