Wednesday, August 1, 2007

`Ladies` Detective` film brings Tinsel Town to tiny Botswana

source: The Christian Science Monitor

Alexander McCall Smith's hit book series set in Botswana is bringing big-screen money the African country.

By Stephanie Hanes | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 1, 2007 edition

Page 1 of 4

Gaborone, Botswana - Until Hollywood came to town, work was scarce for Botswana film producer Portia Molebedi Sorinyane. Her home country of dust and diamonds was her inspiration; but if she wanted a job, she had to cross the border into South Africa.

"There is no film industry here, so if you want to eat you need to move somewhere else," she says from behind a pair of trendy, oversized sunglasses.

But that, she hopes, is changing. This month, filming started on the first international movie ever to be shot in Botswana – The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, a movie based on Alexander McCall Smith's hit book series of the same name.

This means that Ms. Sorinyane has a gig as an assistant producer. It also means that her country of 1.7 million, whose economy is almost entirely dependent on diamond mining, may be the latest nation to cash in on Tinseltown's Africa fad and launch a lucrative new industry.

In many ways, it is fitting that the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency should be the launch of a film industry here. Mr. McCall Smith's series is set in Botswana, and focuses on the character Precious Ramotswe, a plucky, "traditionally-built" detective who solves fraud and misdeeds in Gabarone, the capital city.

The feel-good books exploded in popularity after Sept. 11, 2001 – they have been translated into 40 different languages and sold more than 15 million copies.

If all goes as planned, the movie will expand into a BBC series.

Seven years ago, when McCall Smith talked to producer Amy J. Moore about turning the series into a movie, both assumed that it would be shot in Botswana – the country that gives the story its flavor.

"We'd always talked about wanting to [continue reading]

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