As tens of thousands of fans converged on the Leaders Club grounds to pay their last respects to fallen movie star Steven Kanumba, a Hollywood source revealed intriguing details of a contract that was set to make him one of the greatest stars in this region.
According to documents obtained exclusively by Beat, the deal had been sealed at 5pm on Friday and Kanumba was on his way to becoming one of the biggest cash spinners in East and Central Africa.
Speaking from his Hollywood base, his international manager Prince Richard, a US citizen of Ghanaian descent, said the deal was set to feature three major films though he could not reveal the actual financial details.
Shot in Accra
“The first film is called Bleeding Sunshine and the trailer was shot in Accra, last October. The feature was due to be filmed by October 2012 in Ghana, Dubai, Egypt and other locations,” he said.
Though his role in this particular film is not specified, it would have made Kanumba the first Tanzanian to feature in a Hollywood film with more than four celebrated Hollywood actors.
The trailer was shot toward the end of last year and was released on Tuesday this week.
“The Hollywood trailer is out but sadly he’ll never get to see it. I was waiting for him to arrive in Accra for the formal screening,” a devastated Richard said.
The detailed work schedule also reveals that the movie would have premiered in the US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and finally Tanzania.
“I understand that Kanumba had one film (Black Sunday) premiere on the big screen but as we all know, a Hollywood premiere is at a whole new level,” he said.
In the second part of the three-film deal, Kanumba had been selected to do another Afri-Hollywood film Presidan First Love, which features two other Tanzanian actors, Rose Ndauka and Lucy Komba.
The film, about a great African leader, was to be shot in Ghana between July and August this year.
“This film will have been his biggest pay gig since he plays a major role as the head of presidential security,” he said.
The first film, which would have come before the other two was Challete, whose shooting was set to begin on April 14 and features another Tanzanian actress Lucy Komba.
“We were to begin work on this film this weekend but unfortunately the date coincided with an invite from the San Francisco Film Festival as a special guest to discuss the inclusion of Bongo Movies in their 2013 festival,” Richard said.
Commenting on her role in Presidan First Love, actress Komba, who had already travelled to Accra said all arrangements had been finalised and she was waiting for Kanumba to turn up.
“After the arrangements were all set, I sent him mail on Good Friday at around 9pm GMT. Unfortunately, it was one that he never replied and my efforts to reach him on the phone were futile. Little did I know that he was dead,” says a devastated Komba, who arrived in Tanzania on Monday night in time for the funeral.
According to the meticulously laid out plans, Kanumba was to travel to Ghana on March 30, but this could not be because of other contractual obligations.
“Given the fact that he was going to be away for the rest of the summer, we had to allow him to complete his contractual duties with Steps Entertainment. We expected him to arrive in Ghana on April 12, then fly out to San Francisco,” says Richard.
“I had just put together my dream team of Steven, Lucy Komba, Kambi and Rose Ndauka. Our dream has now been shattered by the loss of the captain,” said Richard.
Uplifting the image
According to Richard, Kanumba contributed immensely to uplifting the image of Bongo movies and Tanzania than anyone else in recent times. His passion for collaborations with other Africans was unrivalled.
“His dream was to initiate the first Ghanaian-East African film as well as to hit the Hollywood stage. He achieved two out of three. We will help make the Ghanaian-East African film a reality in his honour,” he said.
According to business associates in both Ghana and Hollywood, the star’s death had thrown most of their arrangements into disarray.
“Though we had to review his schedule as events and requests availed themselves, never at any one moment did we fathom this tragic turn of events,” Richard said.
He, however, said the Hollywood project Bleeding Sunshine will carry on.
“Presidan First Love and Challete will also continue and we shall have to re-cast someone else for the role. Thankfully Lucy Komba and Rose Ndauka are already cast in the film,” he said.
According to Richard, his interest in Tanzania was inspired by an article in the Citizen (Bongo Movies can go places) after ZIFF 2010.
“Since then, I have never taken my eyes off Bongo films. I wanted to showcase them and the actors to the rest of the world, that is why I personally funded a film (Binti Nusa 2 & 3). I wanted to assemble a core of serious-minded actors, who were ready for the international stage,” he said.
His first search for competent actors, who could speak English, was not smooth as his then advisors discouraged him, saying, there were not many actors in the country of that calibre.
As a result, he was forced to look for Baraza aka Ken Ambani from Kenya.
“It later dawned on me that there were other actors/actresses such as JB, Rose Ndauka, Lucy Komba, Mtunis, Ndubagwe “Thea” Misayo, Jacky Kisaka, Hashim Kambi, Emma Myamba and of course Kanumba who impressed everyone, especially the Hollywood director on the very first day of his audition in Accra,” Richard says.