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Director Chosen for Fela Kuti Biopic

By , Editor | The Jazz Line

A director has been chosen for the upcoming biopic film chronicling Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti‘s life.

Nigerian photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu has been tapped to helm the project, the film’s producers have confirmed.

The film will be based on the book “Fela: The Life and Times of An African Musical Icon,” written by Michael Veal in 2000. However, the film is in no way adapted from or associated with the Broadway musical “Fela!,” which draws from the same book as inspiration.

British Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (’12 Years a Slave,’ ‘2012’) has been attached to play the lead role in the film, which has become the first Fela Kuti drama to secure the rights to use Fela’s music.

Dosunmu is best known for his work directing music videos for the likes of Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone, Common, and Wyclef Jean. However, he has also received acclaim from critics at the Sundance Film Festival, where he has premiered two films: Drama flicks ‘Restless City,’ and ‘Mother of George.’ Both films were picked up by distributors shortly after the festival, and received a limited theatrical release.

Fela, full name Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, was born in Nigeria on October 15, 2938. Kuti was a multi-instrumentalist best known for effectively creating Afrobeat music, which is -at its highest level- a fusion Jazz, Funk, Nigerian High-life (traditional African pop), psychedelic rock, and traditional African chants and rhythms. His music was incredibly popular among the people of Africa in the 1970s and ’80s, but his politically charged lyrics proved to be unpopular with the ruling government, leading to frequent raids and beatings for Kuti and his collective.

Fela Kuti died on August 3, 1997 after succumbing to an AIDS-related cancer. More than one million people were in attendance at his funeral in Lagos, Nigeria; standing testament to his impact on his community, and the entire world.

Watch Fela Kuti perform “Teacher Don’t Teach Me No Nonsense” below:

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