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Nigerian helmer goes on ‘Journeys’

Donald Ranvaud to exec produce Jeta Amata pic

CANNES — Prominent Nigerian director Jeta Amata (“The Amazing Grace”) will dig deep into the corrupt practices of pharmaceutical multinationals in Africa in “Journeys of One,” an ambitious English-language drama that Donald Ranvaud (“The Constant Gardner”) will executive produce.

Amata — in Cannes for the market preem of his environmental drama “Black Gold,” starring Tom Sizemore and Billy Zane, among other Hollywood thesps — said that his “Journeys” will be a way to provide a more genuine take on the Big Pharma in Africa theme tackled by Hollywood in Fernando Meirelles’ “The Constant Gardner.”

“We like Hollywood coming to tell our story; but they miss some of the essence of the African point of view,” he said.

Along with Amata, producer Soledad Grognett and Ranvaud are looking for a name African-American thesp for one of the key roles. And “Journeys” will also likely feature an Indian star.

“The idea is to make it Hollywood, Nollywood — as the Nigerian film industry is know — and Bollywood; the three biggest markets in the world,” said Jeta.

He described “Journeys” as being based on investigative reports that don’t get much international press play.

“If you go to the remote villages where they don’t have proper means of communication, you find people just dying unnecessarily,” said Jeta.

“And though they don’t realize it, the real thing that killed them was some drug that they weren’t meant to take.”

“The environment in Nigeria makes it a haven for these people (the pharmaceutical companies) to run whatever tests they want and treat people like rats and guinea pigs,” Grognett added.

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