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Rapper K’naan, Frieda Pinto, Dan Stevens Headline Belgian-Congo-Set Love Story ‘The Catastrophist’

Rapper K'naan, Frieda Pinto, Dan Stevens Headline Belgian-Congo-Set Love Story 'The Catastrophist'

An update on a project first announced in 2012. 

Somali/Canadian rapper K’naan will co-star in an adaptation of a Belgian-Congo period romance novel titled “The Catastrophist,” written by Ronan Bennett.

British filmmaker Nick Broomfield will direct the film, which is now set to shoot in 2015, near Lake Victoria in Tanzania, and will actually not be a film, but a 4-part mini-series for the BBC in the UK.

Naturally, the love story is between 2 white characters, while the central African country (under Belgian colonial rule, sometime in the late 1950s, to early 1960s) plays gracious (or maybe indignant) host to our 2 star-crossed (white) lovers.

Here’s Amazon’s synopsis of the novel, which I can’t claim to have read: “James Gillespie, a disillusioned Irish historian turned novelist, has arrived in the Congo on the eve of independence, hoping to reunite with his Italian lover, Ines. The two had once been passionately involved in Europe, but Ines’s job as a journalist took her to the Congo, where her Communist leanings have kept her. Ines is an enthusiastic supporter of Patrice Lumumba, and her journalism reflects her bias. Gillespie, on the other hand, has a novelist’s broader view, and his ability to see all facets of the issue simultaneously keeps him from choosing sides and drives a wedge between him and Ines. As she becomes more involved with Lumumba and his followers, he is befriended by an American CIA agent whom Ines suspects of being an enemy. When the political situation heats up, she puts herself increasingly in harm’s way until, at last, Gillespie must put his own life on the line to save hers… The Catastrophist is a love story, a historical novel, a troubling reflection on Africa’s ongoing political upheaval.”

Call it “Out Of Africa,” the sequel…? Reductive, but you get my point. I need to come up with a biting umbrella term for films of this ilk.

The book was a bestseller after it was published in 2007.

K’naan will appear in the film, alongside stars Dan Stevens from hit UK TV series “Downton Abbey,” and Frieda Pinto. I’m assuming Stevens will play James Gillespie and Pinto will play Ines, his Italian lover. She’s Indian by the way. As for role K’naan will play, it hasn’t yet been made public. Although my guess is that he’ll represent, shall we say, *tour guide* of some sort, for our white hero, his damsel in distress, and the audience.

K’naan made his feature film acting debut in David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis,” in 2012, although, as I recall, he played a corpse of a celebrated rapper named Brutha Fez.

Filming is due to start in Tanzania in February 2015, as director Broomfield is said to have met with the country’s president, Jakaya Kikwete, who sees the production as a way to help boost the local film industry.

If you have read the novel, I’d love to read your reactions to it…

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