×

Djimon Hounsou to Play Nobel Peace Prize Winner Denis Mukwege in ‘Panzi’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou is set to portray the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege in “Panzi,” a biopic helmed by actress-turned-director Marie-Helene Roux (“Links of Life”).

Mukwege is a prominent Congolese gynecologist who founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where for decades he has been treating thousands of women who have been raped by armed rebels. He was jointly awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

Hounsou, who is best-known for his Oscar-nominated performances in Jim Sheridan’s “In America” and Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond,” will headline “Panzi,” which Cynthia Pinet at Paris-based 1divided Films is producing. The film is currently in casting and is scheduled to start shooting next summer.

1divided acquired the exclusive rights to the life and story of Mukwege and his colleague and friend Guy-Bernard Cadière. The two doctors, who have been working hand-in-hand to end sexual violence against women in Congo, co-wrote the book “Panzi.” Published in 2014, the book chronicles what they have witnessed and experienced at the hospital, with heartfelt testimonies from victims.

“In this country which has been torn by war (six million people have been killed), barbarism consists in using the body of a woman, either a newborn or an adult, and destroy it. With rape, a woman is destroyed and rejected, and a family it annihilated,” said Pinet.

Popular on Variety

“Panzi” is the second feature film written and directed by Roux, who was born to French parents in Gabon, and grew up between Africa and France.

Roux’s feature debut, “Links of Life,” will be released in France during the first quarter of 2019. The English-language movie follows the encounter between a 50-year-old Frenchwoman with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who flies to Utah to fulfill a lifelong dream and meets an enigmatic 30-year-old American man.

1Divided Films is a five-year-old company committed to developing films that are socially or politically engaged. The company’s credits include the short film “A Deported Life” and “Shortage of Children,” a drama inspired by true events that took place in 1963 on the island of Reunion.

“Panzi” will mark Hounsou’s return to non-Hollywood material. The actor has a flurry of high-profile U.S. movies in the pipeline, notably the reboot of “Charlie’s Angels,” which Elizabeth Banks is directing.

More Film

  • Oliver-Berben-and-Uli-Edel

    Constantin TV, ZDF, Global Screen, Team on 'The Palace' (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Constantin Film, the No. 1 German independent behind the “Resident Evil” franchise, is teaming with German public broadcaster ZDF to produce “The Palace,” (“Friedrichstadt-Palast”) a period drama set at the celebrated Berlin music hall. Global Screen will handle international distribution. “Last Exit to Brooklyn’s” Uli Edel will re-team with Constantin Television, directing the [...]

  • Berlin: Embankment Rides With Frankie Dettori

    Berlin: Embankment Rides With Frankie Dettori Documentary 'Frankie'

    Embankment has launched worldwide sales at the European Film Market on feature documentary “Frankie,” the story of champion jockey Frankie Dettori, winner of more than 3,000 races. The film shadows Dettori for one season as, at 49, he looks to win a record third Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on Enable, his most beloved horse. [...]

  • Pathé Inks Major Pre-Sales on Emilia

    Pathé Inks Major Pre-Sales on Emilia Jones Starrer 'Coda' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Pathé has closed major pre-sales on Sian Heder’s anticipated film “Coda,” starring Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez and Marlee Matlin, after unveiling an exclusive promo reel of the film at EFM. An English-language remake of the French smash hit “La Famille Belier,” “Coda” is being produced by Philippe Rousselet and Fabrice Gianfermi at Vendôme Group, alongside [...]

  • Greenwich Takes U.S. Rights to Caroline

    Greenwich Takes U.S. Rights to Oscar-Winner Caroline Link's 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit'

    Beta Cinema has sold the German box-office hit “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” by Oscar-winner Caroline Link to the U.S. Greenwich Entertainment picked up the rights to the feature, which has attracted almost one million admissions since its Christmas release in Germany alone. German media lauded the film, calling it “a real godsend for the [...]

  • 'H Is for Happiness' Review

    'H Is for Happiness': Film Review

    More often than not, “A” festival competitions privilege the arty over the entertaining, so hats off to the Berlinale Generation section, where the two qualities frequently coexist. A case in point: the delightful coming-of-age dramedy “H Is for Happiness,” which provides feel-good entertainment for the entire family without pandering — and definitely without sacrificing style [...]

  • 'Jinpa' Review

    ‘Jinpa’: Film Review

    After roaming for more than a year on the international festival circuit, “Jinpa” — the latest effort from Tibetan director Pema Tseden (“Old Dog,” “Tharlo”) — has finally launched a limited run in U.S. art houses, where it might find an appreciative if occasionally perplexed audience for its idiosyncratic mix of deadpan wit and understated [...]

  • Clarisse-Goulart

    Projeto Paradiso Fights for Brazilian Film Industry

    BERLIN — Having slowed incentives to a near halt this year, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s government looks set to decimate film funding in 2020. Brazil’s industry is bracing – and fighting back. On Sunday, at Berlin, Projeto Paradiso, a philanthropic organization, announced a Sao Paulo Forum, New Business Models for a New Audiovisual Era, and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content