LONDON—After winning praise for his first feature film Hunger, which explored the 1981 hunger strike of Irish Republican Army prisoners, artist Steve McQueen has announced he plans to tackle a marginally cheerier topic for his next film: the life of African music star Fela Kuti. There's been a resurgence in Kuti's popularity since his death of complications from AIDS in 1997. There is currently a major Broadway musical about his life running in New York, and James Schamus of Focus Pictures, which is producing the film, argues that the musician may be “the most globally influential pop artist outside the Beatles in the last 50 years." McQueen will reportedly write the screenplay for the biopic along with Biyi Bandale. The script will be based on Michael Veal’s book Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon, and will follow the artist through his often tumultuous life, which included frequent clashes with the government of Nigerian dictator Olusegun Obasanjo.
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