- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2005

KAMPALA, Uganda — This country is about to relive the era of its most brutal dictator, Idi Amin, as a major Hollywood production begins filming the screen adaptation of the acclaimed novel “The Last King of Scotland.”

Starring award-winning U.S. actors Forest Whitaker as the notorious Amin, Kerry Washington as one of his wives and television star Gillian Anderson, the film tells the tale of Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish physician who becomes the dictator’s personal doctor.

“It has been a long-held ambition of mine to work in Africa, so I am very pleased that making ‘The Last King of Scotland’ in Uganda has given me the reason to come,” Mr. Whitaker said in a statement.

When cameras roll outside the Ugandan parliament, the capital, the Lake Victoria airport town of Entebbe and other parts of the country will be thrown back to the height of Amin’s ruthless regime in the 1970s, producers said.

“We start filming in Kampala on Saturday and half of the work will be done here, while the rest will be in towns like Jinja, Entebbe and in western Uganda among other places,” Charles Steel, one of the producers, told Agence France-Presse.

Filming also will take place in the Mabira forest of central Uganda, where many of the bodies of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Amin’s excesses were dumped during his eight-year reign of terror, Mr. Steel said.

Between 300,000 and 500,000 Ugandans were killed during Amin’s despotic rule from 1971 to 1979, the height of which is covered in the “Last King of Scotland.”

On-location shooting in Uganda is to last eight weeks, and the film is expected to be shown worldwide by Twentieth Century Fox International in July 2006, said the production company, Cowboy Films.

Some 300 Ugandans, including about 100 actors and extras, are to be employed by Cowboy Films during the $6 million shoot, it said.

Based on Giles Foden’s award-winning novel of the same name, “The Last King of Scotland” tells the story of Dr. Garrigan, played by Scottish actor James McAvoy in his first major screen role, and his career as Amin’s physician.

Flattered at first by his command appointment, the doctor is horrified to discover his unknowing complicity in the savage crimes of Amin, who died of multiple organ failure in August 2003, an exile in Saudi Arabia.

Miss Anderson portrays an Israeli nurse with whom Dr. Garrigan falls in love shortly after his arrival in Uganda, and plays a critical role later during the well-known 1976 raid on a hijacked Air France flight at Entebbe airport.

“The Last King of Scotland,” titled after Amin’s pyschopathic belief that he should take over from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as monarch to the Scots, is directed by Kevin Macdonald, who won an Oscar for the 2000 documentary “One Day in September” about the Israeli hostage crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Ugandan actors Abby Mukiibi, Stephen Rwangyezi and Sam Okello play significant roles in the film: Mr. Mukiibi as Amin’s right-hand man, Mr. Rwangyezi as a senior government minister and Mr. Okello as a rural clinic worker.

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