Steve McQueen to Helm Fela

ON

Focus Features has hired Steve McQueen (Hunger) to direct Fela, a feature film based on the life of African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti — the subject of the recently opened Broadway musical “Fela!”

McQueen will write the script with Biyi Bandele, based on the Michael Veal book “Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon.” Fela, who died in 1997, was known for his Afrobeat musical style, which is a fusion of American jazz, funk and West African drums.

Variety says that Fela lived large — with some 27 wives — and paid a high price for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria. In one attack on his home, Fela’s 78-year-old mother was killed after being thrown from a second-story window. Fela responded by placing her coffin on the steps of the Nigerian leader’s residence.

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