When Ben Affleck directs films based on true stories, he gives us Best Picture-winners like Argo. Now, he’s getting back behind the camera to bring us another drama based on an underreported on facet of history. Deadline reports that Affleck will be directing King Leopold’s Ghost, a story concerned with colonialism, African history, human rights violations, and the inspiring lengths people can go to when they fight for what’s right.
The film, based on a nonfiction book of the same title by Adam Hochschild, will concern the horrid legacy of Belgium’s King Leopold II in the 1800s. He became wealthy by privately buying the Congo Free State, setting up mercenary armies who plundered the region for resources, and slaughtered anyone who got in his way. Eventually, residents of the Congo began to fight back against Leopold’s vicious rule, and Affleck’s film will center on three people leading the counter-cause: an Irish spy, an English journalist, and an African-American missionary. No casting has been announced for the film yet, but I’m willing to bet every A-list actor in town will want a chance to appear in this important, harrowing work.
The film will be written by Farhad Safinia (Apocalypto) and produced by Affleck himself through his Pearl Street Films banner, alongside other notable producers Martin Scorsese and Harry Belafonte. The book has been previously adapted in a 2006 documentary, and Affleck’s team was originally considering developing the story as a limited series before settling on a feature film. Affleck has been personally interested in African justice for some time now. He founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, a group that works with residents of the area to further socioeconomic progress. With King Leopold’s Ghost, Affleck will put this real-life passion into his artistic life for the first time.