Production will begin on a long-awaited screen adaptation of Lawrence Hill's acclaimed novel The Book of Negroes this fall, with the eventual TV miniseries to air on CBC and the American network BET.
The project's producers revealed the news about the Canada-South Africa co-production on Tuesday from the Banff World Media Festival.
Published in 2007, The Book of Negroes tells the story of an African woman named Aminata Diallo who is kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery in the southern U.S. She later makes her way to Halifax and, finally, to England at the turn of the 19th century.
Published in some countries under the title Someone Knows My Name, the book earned widespread praise. It sold nearly a million copies worldwide and also won a host of honours, including the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best overall book and the 2009 edition of CBC's Canada Reads. The novel was also set to music by the Nathaniel Dett Chorale in 2012.
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Back in 2009, Toronto-based filmmakers Clement Virgo and Damon D'Oliveira announced that their production firm, Conquering Lion, had acquired film rights to Hill's epic tale.
Virgo and Hill, who lives in Hamilton, Ont., will collaborate on writing the forthcoming miniseries, with Virgo also to direct.
"Lawrence Hill has given us a gift with his novel The Book of Negroes and I'm now thrilled to be able to convey the exhilaration I felt on first reading it into an exciting cinematic experience for a worldwide audience," Virgo said in a statement.
Filming is slated to begin in South Africa in the fall.