Angelina Jolie to direct Richard Leakey biopic 'Africa'

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[September 20, 2014]  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.

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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