Ben Affleck’s Bono-esque philanthropic ambitions may be advancing, but he is having trouble raising interest from the big platform that is Hollywood. In a recent interview, the Oscar-winning writer, actor and director deplored Hollywood’s lack of interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“I would love to make a movie about Congo, but unfortunately I’ve asked Hollywood folks and they always say nobody wants to see a movie about Africa. I think that points to this general sense that people sort of tune out, that it doesn’t matter. It’s also a function of trends and conventional wisdom: if it comes down to a movie with fighting robots or a movie on what’s happening in eastern Congo, you’re not going to win.”
Using his celebrity to raise awareness for global crises, he founded the Eastern Congo Initiative earlier this year, in March. The organization’s aim is to encourage economic and social development in the troubled eastern region of the country. Find out more about his efforts and watch his video about the Congo after the jump.
Affleck is devoted to his cause and has already made several visits to the Congo. Moreover, he is urging the US government to double its efforts and provide the necessary aid to bring stability to the region. Rape and violent crimes are prevalent in eastern Congo.
But if he were to make a feature film, it would definitely not be a documentary. Perhaps Affleck, who won a screenwriting Oscar for Good Will Hunting and most recently wrote and directed The Town, knows his strengths as a storyteller, telling the AFP:
“There have been a lot of documentaries already, and fiction is more gripping. You can tell one person’s story and really control the extent to which the history and the politics are layered in, but you keep that central through-line of a protagonist that you’re really rooting for.”
Affleck elaborates on the trouble with the commercial prospects of a film set in Africa:
“But the other problem with movies about Africa is that there are no African movie stars in the United States. So the lead has to be someone who’s American, and you have to figure out how to get an American person wedged into a story about Africa… [Leonardo DiCaprio] did it really well in Blood Diamonds, so it’s not impossible.”
Charlize Theron, who is South African, has already expressed interest. More A-listers may follow suit methinks if — or when — the project becomes more concrete.
Affleck has already made two brief films about Congo, including a 23-minute collaboration with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, Gimme Shelter, shot in the Nord-Kivu region.
He also recently posted a five-minute video about DRC on YouTube, featuring the U2 song “Bad”.
In the meantime, he is keeping busy with his day job: Affleck was most recently spotted on the set of the yet-untitled Terrence Malick film. He will next be seen in The Company Men, which opens December 10th.