The Weinstein Company with the support of the Republic of Botswana will begin production on July 9th in Botswana on “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” based on Alexander McCall Smith’s global bestselling series of the same name. This marks the first time a major movie will be filmed in its entirety in Botswana and the Republic of Botswana has made a significant investment in the production. Directed by Academy Award® winning filmmaker Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain, The English Patient), from a script by Minghella and Academy Award® nominee Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), the event movie for TV will go on to become an ongoing television series. The project is being produced by Academy Award® winning filmmaker Sydney Pollack, Timothy Bricknell (Cold Mountain) for Mirage Productions along with Amy Moore. The announcement was made today by Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company.
TWC and Mirage have assembled a dynamic cast of diverse and talented actors to bring McCall Smith’s enchanting characters to life. Grammy Award winning artist Jill Scott will star as Precious Ramotswe, the series heroine who has become one of the most beloved characters in international contemporary fiction. Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) will play Precious’ quirky secretary Mma Makutsi and Lucian Msamati will play Mma Ramotswe’s devoted suitor JLB Matekoni. They will be joined by David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland), Idris Elba (28 Weeks Later, “The Wire), Colin Salmon (Die Another Day, Match Point) and Tony Award Winners Winston Ntshona and John Kani.
“The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” is a poignant and passionate story chronicling the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, the traditionally built, eminently sensible and wise proprietor of the only female-owned detective agency in Botswana, as she investigates cases, helps people solve problems in their lives, and falls in love with the highly respectable owner of a local garage.
“The Government of Botswana and indeed the people of Botswana are delighted to have this opportunity which will certainly enhance our reputation and hard work to the international community. Over the years, we have emphasized upon ourselves as individuals and indeed collectively as a nation, to live by the very values that are at the epicenter of the building of the nation of Botswana. These values have now been formally enshrined in our nation vision, which amongst other pillars aims to build a prosperous and compassionate nation. We are therefore more proud than ever, to realize that internationally acclaimed writers like Alexander McCall Smith and The Weinstein Company have found it necessary to share them with the rest of the world.
Africa, for the first time will be shown in its true warmth and welcoming spirit. My Government is very proud to be in partnership with this team, and are certain the partnership will continue for many years to come as it could help kick start a film industry in our country,” said the Honorable Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Onkokame Kitso Mokaila.
Anthony Minghella stated, “Moving into preproduction on ‘The No 1. Ladies Detective Agency’ is the culmination of many years of work. We have assembled a fantastic cast of African and International actors who share the same passion to bring to life the gallery of wonderful characters created by Alexander McCall Smith. It was crucial for all of the production team that we film in Botswana; in many ways the novels are a celebration of a place. Our partnership with the Republic means we can create a unique world featuring Botswana’s extraordinary landscapes. But beyond the beauty of the country is the opportunity – in this film and in the television series that will follow – to tell stories from Africa about what’s good about Africa. In the process we hope that Mma Ramotswe and her friends become as irresistible and delightful on screen as they have been for millions of readers.”
Sydney Pollack stated, “We’re extremely excited here at Mirage to be producing this magical, and very wry and wise material. It’s particularly exciting to have the opportunity to make it in Botswana where Alexander McCall Smith envisioned it.”
Harvey Weinstein stated, “Like all fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s magisterial books, I became enchanted with the wonders and charms of Botswana. As McCall Smith described it, Botswana is one of the most incredible countries in Africa – filled with inspiring landscapes, beautiful landmarks, diverse wildlife and wonderful people. We are thrilled to be working with the Republic of Botswana, Anthony Minghella, Richard Curtis, Sydney Pollack and Amy Moore to showcase the natural delights of this remarkable country and to bring McCall Smiths dynamic stories to audiences around the world.”
Botswana, famous for the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Game Reserve, is one of Africa’s true success stories. It is one of the finest places on the planet to observe wildlife, and its capital, Gaborone – the fastest growing city on the continent – is home to the heroine of Alexander McCall Smith’s incredibly successful, best selling book series. Precious Ramotswe has become one of the most loved characters in international contemporary fiction and the books have served to celebrate the gentleness and decency of this very special country.
Colin Vaines, Executive Vice President of European Production and Development, will oversee the project on behalf of The Weinstein Company. Film Afrika is supporting the production in Southern Africa and will be providing location services.