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Ben Affleck to Direct ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’ Based on True Story of European Oppression of Congo

Martin Scorsese to produce

Ben Affleck has found his next directorial project, as he’s set to direct “King Leopold’s Ghost,” a drama that details the true story of the oppression of the Congo in Africa by European rulers in the early 20th century.

Scott Budnick’s One Community, which is behind “Just Mercy” upcoming later this year, is financing the film. Affleck will also produce for his Pearl Street Films banner alongside Martin Scorsese for Sikelia Productions. Farhad Safinia (“Apocalypto”) is attached to write the script based on the non-fiction book by Adam Hochschild, “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa.”

Harry and Gina Belafonte are also producing the film along with Emma Koskoff-Tillinger for Sikelia. Madison Ainley will executive produce for Pearl Street.

“King Leopold’s Ghost” is based on the exploits of Leopold II of Belgium, who led a savage plunder in the Congo that helped to make him into one of the richest men in the world. The book is set in the early 20th century as the Congolese defied him 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 of the king in the heart of darkness and gave birth to the first human rights movement in history.

This would be Affleck’s first film as a director since “Live By Night” from 2016. Before that he directed the Best Picture winner “Argo” as well as “The Town.”

Affleck has been very active in charity work and activism in the Congo, having founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, or ECI, which is a grant-making initiative focused on working with and for the people of Eastern Congo. The group works to increase the quantity of public and private funding and works to create public policy change, it provides resources to local leaders and raises public awareness about the need for opportunity in the region.

Affleck is represented by WME and Ziffren Brittenham. Safinia is represented by WME, Brian Sher,  and Morris Y0rn. Scorsese is represented by WME, LBI Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson.

One Community is a film, television, and new media company that uses the power of commercial storytelling to enable positive global social change. Each of their films have social impact campaigns that expand the message of the film into actionable goals and tangible changes.

News of the project was first reported by Deadline.