Recently-launched PanAfrican studio, Restless Global, is beefing up its slate with 2 new projects: 1 for TV and the other a feature film.
First, the studio is currently packaging what is described as an ambitious 13-episode TV series titled “The Trade,” which is set in the murky world of the West African drug trade and follows the investigations of an undercover agent from the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement agency (NDLEA) on a clandestine operation to take down a ruthless South American drug cartel operating in the region. When he finds himself trapped on the wrong side of the law with no way back to normal life, he must maintain his cover in order to survive and finds himself being seduced deeper and deeper into the torrid depth of “The Trade.” A complex, character-driven crime drama that involves African and international law enforcement agencies, government officials, South American crime syndicates, and powerless victims, THE TRADE takes its viewers into a web of intrigue that stretches across the continent and beyond.
Early talent attachments include award-winning directors, Zee Ntuli (“Hard to Get”) and Kunle Afolyan (“October 1”), Nigerian writer Kemi Adesoye (“Phone Swap”), and South African Barry Berk (“The Lab”).
Casting has also began for the lead roles, with actors from Nigeria, Angola, and various other countries being considered. The producers are also looking at actors from the UK and US African diaspora.
“The title – ‘The Trade’ – is the essence of the series,” says Restless Global’s Marie Lora-Mungai. “Every action, relationship, decision and consequence is a trade, an exchange, a bargain, a negotiation, whether it is in the physical world or within the characters’ moral or spiritual selves.”
“’The Trade’ is our flagship project,” adds Tendeka Matatu also of Restless Global. “A truly pan-African project that we believe has breakout potential.”
And second, on the feature film front, an adaptation journalist and author Michela Wrong’s 2009 best seller “It’s Our Turn to Eat. The story of a Kenyan whistleblower,” is in development under the title “State of Betrayal.”
A retelling of true events, a summary of the story goes… In 2002, after ground-breaking elections that put an end to dictatorship in Kenya, former journalist and activist John Githongo was tapped by the new and massively popular government to head its anti-corruption department. But after a promising start, things took a dark turn when Githongo discovered that the very people he had entrusted with his hopes and dreams for reform were the ones pulling the strings of graft in the shadows. Despite the implications to his career and personal life, Githongo made the difficult decision to disavow his ethnic loyalties and investigate a multi-million dollar corruption scandal, hence becoming the highest-ranking African official to ever blow the whistle against his own government, which he did in a historic sit-down interview with the BBC in London. After years spent in exile in the UK, Githongo eventually came back to Kenya and resumed his activities as a civil society advocate. But still today his persona divides Kenyan public opinion between those who considered his choices heroic and those who saw them as acts of betrayal.
“John Githongo is a classic hero,” said author Wrong. “Threatened and vilified by those in power, rejected by those closest to him, alone and in exile, he nonetheless finds the strength within himself to say: ‘No. Not on my watch.’ In this instance, an African protagonist challenges a corrupt African elite. But his ordeal, his defiance, and his story will always be both universal and timeless. Turning ‘It’s Our Turn to Eat’ into a film means that this story, which is both a cautionary tale and a morality play, can touch and inspire audiences who have never heard of these scandals and barely know where Kenya is.”
Kenyan writer Nadeem Rajwani is scripting the adaptation of the book.
A multi-faceted content development, production and distribution company, Marie Lora-Mungai and Tendeka Matatu launched Restless Global earlier this year. Its various divisions include Restless Talent Management, Buni Media, Ten10 Films, and Buni.tv.