Angelina Jolie to direct film about Kenyan conservationist

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Angelina Jolie and William Hague

Angelina Jolie is to direct a “sweeping epic” film about veteran Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey’s fight with ivory poachers, the studio behind the movie said Friday.

The Oscar-winning actress — whose latest film as director, “Unbroken,” is out in December — will go behind the camera once again for “Africa,” with a screenplay by another Oscar winner, Eric Roth.

“I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life,” Jolie said, praising “Forrest Gump” writer Roth’s “beautiful” script.

The film is about “a man drawn into the violent conflict with elephant poachers, who emerged with a deeper understanding of man’s footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him,” she said.

Leakey, 69, former head of the government’s Kenya Wildlife Service, was key in stemming the rampant poaching of the late 1980s, using extreme measures including sending helicopter gunships into national parks.

Kenya’s elephant and rhino populations recovered from the brink of disaster, but more than two decades later, the east African nation is once again facing soaring levels of poaching.

The new movie for Skydance Productions will be produced by Jolie, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Jon Peters. She will team up again with renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins, who also shot “Unbroken.”

Ellison called Leakey “inspirational,” saying: “‘Africa’ is a story that deserves to be told.

“I know that it will exceed my expectations in Angelina’s hands,” he added.

Jolie is currently directing “By the Sea,” based on her own screenplay and in which she co-stars with her husband Brad Pitt, as well as Melanie Laurent and Niels Arestrup.

“Unbroken” is about Olympian and World War II POW survivor Louis Zamperini. It will be released on December 25 in the United States.

Jolie’s directorial debut feature, 2011’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey” set against the background of the early 1990s Bosnian war, was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best foreign language film.

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