According to Deadline, Ben Affleck (soon to begin work with Ridley Scott on next year's The Last Duel) has set his next directorial project: an adaptation of Adam Hochschild's King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa. To be written by Apocalypto's Farhad Safinia, this brutal-sounding historical epic seems like it'll be a rough, if ultimately uplifting, sit.
"Set at a moment when European countries were racing to find ways to carve up the natural resources of Africa, Leopold became the world’s richest man with billions stashed in secret bank accounts by gaining private ownership of the Congo Free State, and inserted a mercenary army to cruelly plunder rubber and ivory. He forced the locals to harvest it. Those who refused were dismembered or worse, and the book estimates that as many as 8 million were killed in this ruthless pursuit.
This film is an account of the Congolese who defied Leopold II and fought back. Their heroic plight sparked a daring and unlikely alliance between a black American missionary, an English investigative journalist and an Irish spy that shone a light on the horrors and gave birth to the first human rights movement."
On the surface, this might sound like an unusual project for Affleck to be taking on, but it makes more sense once you learn that the Congo (and the goings-on in that region) are of genuine interest to the actor/director, who founded the Eastern Congo Initiative ("an advocacy and grant-making initiative focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo to spur economic and social development and increase the quantity of public and private funding to support those goals") nearly a decade ago. King Leopold's Ghost has apparently been an Affleck passion project for years now. Good for him on securing financing for it!
Not much else to report at this time, but we'll keep you informed as further King Leopold's Ghost updates roll in. Stay tuned.
(Note: Header photo by Gage Skidmore, used w/ permission via Wikimedia Commons)