Botswana Woos USA/ UK Film Industry

Phathisani Moyo

Gaborone, Botswana - Jul 2007

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The Botswana film and tourism industry are destined for a new era after the government injected a whopping U$5 million to woo some of USA & UK’s hottest talents into the country, to begin shooting the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency based on Alexander McCall Smith’s global best seller of the same name.

The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Kitso Mokaila revelead at a press briefing yesterday that the film has been made possible with the financial suport of the Botswana government through the Botswana Tourism Board and that the shooting will begin on Monday (July 9 2007).

“I lobbied for financial support from Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and after much consideration the government approved the US$5 million for the shooting of the film”. Minister Mokaila said. The making of the film in Botswana is a milestone in the tourism industry as the sector has often been criticisized for for not doing enough to market the country.

Academy award winning director Anthony Mighella (The Firm, The English Patient, Breaking and Entering) leads the production team that includes, award winning author and screenplay writer, Richard Curtis. He wrote all four series of Not the Nine O’clock News for the BBC and went on to write the Blackadder series starring Rowan Atkinson better known as Mr Bean here.

The famous comedy writer also co-wrote the hilarious Mr Bean with Atkinson, among other great works for television. However, his most notable cinematic work is Four Weddings and a Funeral, starring Hugh Grant and Andie Macdowell, the film went on to win numerous awards, including being nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film at the Academy Awards.

The lead role of Mma Precious Ramotswe is played by R&B and Grammy award singer Jill Scott. The film includes other well known characters such as Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) who plays Precious’s quirky secretary, Lucian Msamati who will star as Mma Ramotswe’s suitor JLB Matekoni. The cast will be joined by Winston Ntshona (Blood Diamonds) as well as South African acclaimed actor John Kani.

The 13 series film will be shot entirely in Botswana and produced by Mirage productions owned by Sydney Pollack and Mighella. The dynamic duo will join hands with Amy Moore, producer of the New York theatrical hit ‘Drumstick’, to produce the film.

The story is about the adventures of Precious Ramotswe the traditionally built, sensible and wise proprietor of the only female owned detective agency in Botswana. She investigates cases and helps people solve problems in their lives. She herself falls in love with the highly respectable owner of a local garage (petrol station).

The Botswana Government hope that their investment will uplift their tourism sector and revamp their entertainment industry after the film is broadcast.

“Alexander McCall’s work will surely put Botswana on the world stage and prove that the country is a tourist destination of choice. The initial plan was to shoot the film in South Africa because of the film industry and the skills available in that country, however, the Botswana governmenmt managed to out bid them to bring the project here,” said a proud Mokaila.

He added that after shooting, the film would be shown on BBC and people all over the world will be ale to watch the 13 series production. “I am pleased to say my government and the people of Botswana are more proud than ever, to realise that internationally acclaimed writers like McCall Smith and the Film Producers of the Weinstein Company of the United States have found it neccessary to share a positive story with the rest of the world,” said the Minister.

Botswana, better known for its diamond mining, is also famous for its spectacular tourism locations like the Okavango Delta, one of Africa’s true success stories and among the finest places on the planet to observe wildlife.