I’ll resist any knee-jerk reactions to this news and, for a change, just cross my fingers intead.
Deadline reports that Ben Affleck will get behind the camera again to tackle what is being described as a “… big-scale project… set in Africa, where a bunch of mercenaries are hired to kill a warlord who has been victimizing his own people.“
Further classified as an action movie, Affleck will not only direct, but will also star in the film, which will simultaneously undress issues of philanthropy and foreign assistance as potential forms of neocolonialism.
The latter half of the previous sentence intrigues, but, when it comes to “African narratives” financed and produced by (supposedly liberal) Hollywood movie studios, history instructs me to be skeptical.
Relations between the rest of the world and Africa have been the subject of many a documentary in recent years – especially the increasingly more important trade relations between China and African countries. Debates over how best for the west to relate to Africa (whether more as a partner, rather than in sympathy as a something like a sponsor), abound.
I’m immediately reminded of Zambian Economist and author Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa, which argues that foreign aid has harmed Africa and that it should be phased out. The bold and somewhat controversial New York Times bestseller offers proposals for developing countries to finance development, instead of relying on foreign aid.
As for the matter of African warlords victimizing their own people, well, let’s just say that, combined with what is proposed to be an examination of potential neocolonialist themes, Affleck has his work cut out for him, and will likely find himself and the film under close scrutiny by those much more familiar with the matters the film will tackle, especially after it’s made and is released.
This will be produced with the intent being to *entertain* after all.
Although Affleck, whose own personal politics I can’t claim to be well-informed on, did traverse familiar territory a bit, with his last directorial effort, which won him an Oscar – Argo.
The project is set up at Warner Bros., with Affleck, Matt Damon and Jennifer Todd producing through their Warner Bros-based Pearl Street banner.
No word on other casting yet.