Broomfield lines up Africa-set romance

Coogan, Dorff, K'naan star in 'Catastrophist'

Steve Coogan, Stephen Dorff and Canadian rapper K’naan are set to star in British helmer Nick Broomfield’s “The Catastrophist.”

An adaptation of Ronan Bennett’s bestseller, pic is a love story set against Belgian Congo’s decolonization in the 1960s.

It will be produced by Broomfield via his Lafayette Films, Paul Miller of Escape Pictures and Blighty’s Channel 4 with line producer Donall McCusker (“Hurt Locker”).

eOne has international rights and is selling the pic at the Toronto Film Festival, which kicks off on Sept. 8.

“The Catastrophist” will shoot in Mwanza, a busy mining town in northern Tanzania, because it was considered too risky to film in neighboring Congo.

It’s the first foreign feature to shoot in the East African nation since 1962, when Howard Hawks and John Wayne lensed jungle epic “Hatari!”

Broomfield’s involvement in Tanzania began last year, while filming the documentary “Albino United,” about an albino soccer team.

Despite the greater resources and film infrastructure of neighboring Kenya, the helmer was inspired by Tanzania’s untapped potential.

It’s not the first time that he and McCusker have gone off the grid in search of locations.

McCusker said the duo’s success in Jordan, where they filmed 2007 docu-drama “Battle for Haditha,” inspired them to tackle the challenge of lensing in an undeveloped country.

“When we went into Jordan with ‘Battle,’ there was really very little infrastructure there at all,” he said. “But as you make films, the infrastructure develops and grows around the films being made.”

McCusker returned to Jordan with a Hollywood crew to lens “Hurt Locker.”

He believes “The Catastrophist” will give Tanzania’s fledgling film biz a similar boost. While McCusker expects difficulties — such as finding the period vehicles and set pieces to recreate the Belgian Congo of the 1960s — Tanzania has enough of a barebones industry with equipment and local technicians to support a foreign production.

And as always, in Africa, he expects production to move according to its own schedule.

“As long as you go in with enough lead time,” he said, “and you have an idea of what you need before you go in, it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.”

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