Africa is not only known for its beautiful scenery and friendly people, but also as a prime film location for inter-continental and international blockbusters. From the latest installment of the popular Mad Max franchise, to the epic historical drama, Gladiator, here’s a look at some of the big screen movies filmed in various locations across the continent.
Malcolm X- Egypt and South Africa The popular biopic of American civil rights leader Malcolm X, starring Denzel Washington and directed by Spike Lee, was filmed in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and South Africa. The film follows the life of activist Malcolm X, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster to his ministry and work as a member of the Nation of Islam.
The part of the movie where Malcolm X embarks on a pilgrimage to Mecca was filmed at the Mohammed Ali Mosque (known as the Alabaster Mosque) in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, and the final scenes where South Africa’s former president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela quotes one of Malcolm X’s speeches, was filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mad Max: Fury Road – Namibia
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Mad Max: Fury Road is the 4th installment in the Mad Max franchise and is a 2015 action film written and directed by George Miller.
Set in a future desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities, the story follows the warrior Imperator Furiosa (played by South African-born actress Charlize Theron) who leads enslaved apocalypse survivors in a daring escape from a tyrannical ruler with the help of Max Rockatansky (played by Tom Hardy).
The movie was filmed in Namibia after rains turned the Australian desert outback into a lush field of wild flowers.
Beasts of No Nation – Ghana
Beasts of No Nation, which is a movie adapted from Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same title, is a story about the experiences of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war in a West African country. The movie was filmed in Ghana after the director and screenplay writer of the movie Cary Fukunaga decided on the country as the main location over South Africa to maintain the story’s authenticity to the novel.
The movie stars Abraham Attah as the main character Agu, and UK actor Idris Elba. The film was Attah’s break out role, earning him the Best Young Actor Award at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival among other accolades and nominations.
Captain America: Civil War – Nigeria
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The 2016 American superhero movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe film stable, Captain America: Civil War was partly filmed in Lagos, Nigeria. The location was designed to look like an African market, and included lots of extras to mimic the hustle and bustle associated with busy markets.
Other locations include Germany, Puerto Rico and Iceland. The story follows the feud between the main superheroes, namely Captain America, Iron Man and the Avengers over government interference in the work of the superheroes as the free defenders of humans.
Gladiator – Morocco
The epic historical drama Gladiator, starring Russell Crow as Maximus, the favoured general of Emperor Marcus Aurelius who was betrayed by the emperor’s son Commodus after he ascends to the throne, was filmed in Marrakech, Morocco. The scene where Maximus is taken as a slave to train as a gladiator was filmed at the fortified Kasbah, Ait Benhaddou.
Numerous scenes of slavery and dessert travel were also filmed at the same location. Other blockbusters that were filmed in Marrakech include Sex In The City 2 and Mission Impossible
Blood Diamond – South Africa and Mozambique
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The 2006 action film starring American Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCaprio, and Beninese-born actor Djimon Hounsou tells the story of a mercenary and a fisherman who attempt to retrieve a rare pink diamond in the midst of the Sierra Leonean civil war.
The movie, which highlights the atrocities generated by diamonds mined in war zones to finance warlords and diamond companies across the world, was filmed in Cape Town, Port Edward in KwaZulu Natal, and Mozambique. KwaZulu Natal was used to mimic Sierra Leone’s tropical landscape. It also included two of the continent’s languages, those being Mende and Afrikaans.
The Last King of Scotland – Uganda
Last King of Scotland, a story about a Scottish doctor who becomes the personal physician and close confidante of dictator Idi Amin and witnesses the atrocities of his dictatorship, was wholly filmed in Uganda.
Director Kevin McDonald chose Uganda over South Africa as the movie’s location in order to retain the authenticity of the novel on which the movie is based. Some of the scenes in the movie were shot in the locations where the actual events took place, such as Entebbe Airport, where the hostage crisis occurred in 1971. The film stars Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, and James McAvoy as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan.
The Constant Gardener – Kenya
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The Constant Gardener is a 2005 drama and thriller that is about a British diplomat who relocates to Kenya with his wife, who is a social activist. His wife is found murdered in the wilderness, leading the widower on a journey on uncovering corruption while trying to get to the bottom of his wife’s murder.
The movie was shot in Nairobi, and features the city’s largest slum, Kibera. The film stars Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, and was directed by Fernando Meirelles.
Hotel Rwanda – Rwanda and South Africa
Hotel Rwanda, which is a true life historical drama based on hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, was filmed in Kigali, Rwanda and Johannesburg, South Africa. The story follows Rusesabagina’s heroic struggle to protect Tutsi refugees who went into hiding in the hotel to escape the escalating ethnic cleansing violence by Hutu militia. American actor Don Cheadle stars as Paul Rusesabagina, and the film was directed by Terry George.
District 9 – South Africa
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Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster was filmed exclusively in Soweto township in Johannesburg. Blomkamp used a completely South African crew, and the film’s marketing campaign went viral as it captured the audience’s attention with billboards and bus shelters with signs reading ‘Bus Stop for Humans Only’.
The movie tells the story of aliens who come to Earth as refugees from their own dying planet. The aliens are separated from humans and are managed by Multi-National United, which is unconcerned with the aliens’ welfare but will do anything to master their advanced technology. The story then follows a field agent from the company who contracts a mysterious virus that begins to alter his DNA, turning him in an alien and forcing him to hide in District 9.