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How do you follow up a documentary that promises to probe the mind of politician-turned-reality-TV-starlet Sarah Palin? If you are British director Nick Broomfield, you isolate yourself on a remote film set in Tanzania to film a sweeping period romance and, hopefully, purge your system in the process.

Shortly after he brings Sarah Palin: You Betcha! to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Broomfield will begin production on The Catastrophist, an adaptation of Ronan Bennett’s best-selling novel that takes place during the decolonization of the Congo. According to Variety, the director has an eclectic cast in place, which includes Steve Coogan, Stephen Dorff and Canadian rapper K’naan. The trade notes that this will be the first foreign picture to shoot in Tanzania since John Wayne and Howard Hawkes shot Hatari! there in 1962.

Broomfield’s a tough storyteller to pin down. He primarily prefers to work in the documentary field, having helmed Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer and terrific films on Kurt Cobain and Biggie and Tupac. But he also has dabbled in feature films before. Maybe followng Palin around for the benefit of You Betcha! really did chase Broomfield to Africa? Or maybe he just was swept up in Bennett’s love story. Speaking of, a female lead likely will have to be cast in the next few weeks as Catastrophist ramps up production. And Broomfield’s somewhat familiar with the area, having captured footage for his Albino United documentary there a few years back. But while he and producer Donall McCusker anticipate a few technical problems filming in Africa – such as locating period vehicles for the story – they believe the positive shot a production like this can deliver to Tanzania’s film-related infrastructure is worth the gamble.

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