September 22, 2014 / 7:19 PM / 3 years ago

Angelina Jolie to direct Richard Leakey biopic 'Africa'

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has been hired to direct “Africa,” a feature film about paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey and his campaign against ivory poachers that threaten Africa’s elephants.

Actress Angelina Jolie poses during a photocall as she takes part in a promotional tour for the film Maleficent in Shanghai June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

The film, Jolie’s fourth directorial effort, is from Skydance Productions, the company behind recent “Terminator” and “Mission: Impossible” films. The screenplay is from Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for “Forrest Gump.”

“I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life,” said Jolie in a statement.

Leakey, she said, emerged from the violent conflict with elephant poachers “with a deeper understanding of man’s footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him.”

Skydance Chief Executive David Ellison, son of Oracle Corp founder Larry Ellison, said: “It is very close to my heart, and I know that it will exceed my expectations in Angelina’s hands.”

Jolie will be joined by cinematographer Roger Deakins, who also worked on her next release “Unbroken,” a Universal Pictures biopic of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner turned war hero that opens in December.

Universal said in July that it acquired worldwide rights to Jolie’s “By the Sea,” a drama in production, written and directed by the actress who is also co-starring with husband Brad Pitt.

Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Tom Brown

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