The Book of Negroes: The Motion Picture

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

“After I finished it, I put it down and I thought to myself, there’s no way the rights are available to this book. It’s just such a fantastic book, some big-shot producer must have snapped it up while it was in galleys, there’s no way I could get the rights. But I made the phone call anyway to see if they were available and to my surprise, they were.”  Clement Virgo quoted to The Toronto Star

d8d1ef474c7291e9f0474a37ab89The 2007 novel written by our very own Lawrence Hill, and that many (and for good reason) heralded it as a masterpiece, is now set to be made into a motion picture in the near future.  Toronto director Clement Virgo’s Conquering Lions film production company has acquired the movie rights to “The Book of Negroes” and has announced its intention to adapt the award-winning book.  Virgo says his company is planning to make the film an international co-production, preferably with a British company, possibly with a South African partner.  He says he plans to meet with several potential partners at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.  Conquering Lion is also hunting for a screenwriter to adapt the book.  Virgo says the film must be shot on location around the world, as the story is set variously in Africa, England, the U.S. and Canada.

“What Lawrence Hill does is create such a real world.  The details of every step of the way of her journey are so laid out…And Aminata – her journey is so remarkable, and so harrowing and so inspiring, that I immediately thought this is such a great cinematic character.”  Clement Virgo

The Book of Negroes’ is an award winning novel from Canadian writer Lawrence Hill.  It was first published in 2007 by HarperCollins Canada.  In the United States, Australia and New Zealand the novel was published under the title Someone Knows My Name.  It has become a global publishing phenomena reports the Canadian Press.

2book0706bIt is the story of Aminata Diallo, an 11-year-old child, who is taken from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle, a string of slaves.  Eventually, she arrives in South Carolina where she begins a new life as a slave.  Years later, she finds freedom, serving the British in the American Revolutionary War and having her name entered in the historic “Book of Negroes.”  This book, an actual historic document, is an archive of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the United States in order to resettle in Nova Scotia, only to discover that this new place becomes one that is also oppressive and unyielding.  Aminata eventually returns to Sierra Leone, passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America.

It has already sold over 300,000 copies and won the 2008 Commonwealth prize.

And as for who might be playing our protagonist, Aminata Diallo?

“I think there’s going to be a fist-fight for that part…I think a lot of young, black women are going to want to play that part, because it’s a rare opportunity for a black actress; a part like this doesn’t come along very often. It is obviously the crucial role, so we’re going to search far and wide to find the right person, but I suspect in the next little while I’m going to get a lot of inquiries.”  Clement Virgo

If shot correctly, we already foresee this motion picture to be an instant classic.  Just the story alone brings raw emotion and inflicts a sense of inspiration to readers.  We are more than excited about this project and anticipate its final product.  There are currently no dates as to when shooting will begin.

via The Star

related links

Book Club: The Book Of Negroes

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  1. I can’t wait and I haven’t even read the book… I keep telling myself everytime I see someone talk about it that I’m going to get it… today for sure!

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