"Mother of George" director Andrew Dosunmu will direct "Fela Kuti," the Fela Kuti biopic in development at Focus Features, Focus Features CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen, announced today.
The musical biopic will follow the life and times of Fela Kuti, the legendary king of Afrobeat who sought to harness the power of music to confront corruption in a politically unstable 1970s Nigeria. Dosunmu is himself a native of Nigeria.
Dosunmu's latest feature "Mother of George" premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Oscilloscope on Friday to rave reviews. His documentary "Hot Irons," won the Reel Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and Best Documentary at FESPACO, Africa’s largest film festival. His fiction feature debut, "Restless City" premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Screen Media Films in 2012. Dosunmu also has had a well-established career as a photographer and has directed music videos for the likes of Youssou N'Dour, Aaron Neville and Common.
"Fela Kuti" will draw from Michael Veal's 2000 book "Fela: The Life and Times of An African Musical Icon," and is set to include original music from Fela Kuti himself. Additionally, the screenplay has been written and re-written by Nigerian poet Chris Abani alongside Focus CEO Schamus. It's worth noting that the film is not an adaptation of, or affiliated with, the Broadway musical Fela! Fela Kuti.
Schamus and Karpen have positively noted that, "Fela Kuti lived many lifetimes in just the one, so 'Fela Kuti' will not be a standard biopic. The combination of Andrew Dosunmu's insight into characters and relationships with Fela's spectacular music will enthrall audiences around the globe," said Schamus and Karpen in a statement.