Focus Features has picked Steve McQueen 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, the British artist who made his feature directing debut last year on the Irish hunger strike with the drama Hunger, will write the script with Biyi Bandele, based on the Michael Veal book Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon. The recent musical is not connected to the film project: Focus is basing its picture on a rights package consisting of screen rights to Fela’s music and his life story, plus Veal’s book.
Fela lived large—with some twenty-seven wives—and paid a high price for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria. In one attack on his home, Fela’s seventy-eight-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.