EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Perry’s 34th Street Films has teamed with a group of producers including Doug Liman to mount The Year of the Great Storm, a racially charged murder tale that occurred during the height of Apartheid in South Africa. Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu and Matt Moore will produce with Air Extreme Films’ Russ Stratton and Johanna Baldwin. Liman and George C. Wolfe will be exec producers. Directing will be Karzan Kader, whose short film Bekas won a Student Academy Award before he directed the feature version. Baldwin is writing the script.
The Year of the Great Storm will tell the true story and legacy of Amy Biehl, an American Fulbright scholar who was living in South Africa during the dangerous and violent days of the armed struggle against Apartheid. After Amy was attacked and stabbed to death by a mob of black youths in 1993, her American parents decided to attend the trial of her daughter’s killers. They remained in South Africa and began a grassroots effort to bring about change in the movement. Eventually the family supported their daughter’s killers’ application to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission for political amnesty, and later two of those same men joined the efforts of the Amy Biehl Foundation. The film will paint a vivid picture of a country nearing civil war as it struggled with its national destiny in a desperate fight to end decades of systematic racism.
“We’re thrilled to be tackling this difficult but inspiring subject matter with an incredible director, writer and team of producers,” said Ozzie Areu, President of Tyler Perry Studios. “The story of the Biehl family’s journey is one of courage, compassion and redemption, and we are humbled that they have allowed us unfettered access to bring their lives to the big screen.”
Baldwin has followed the Amy Biehl story since her death two decades ago. After meeting Amy’s family in 1996, Baldwin has been working closely with them to track their story over time and has had exclusive access to the family as well as two of the men responsible for her murder. Her other writing credits include the play A Childproof Room at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Liman directed Tony Shalhoub in the starring role. She also scripted Venus & Mars for BBC One and Baldwin’s debut novel, All (Wo)men Desire To Know, is coming out March 16.
Stratton, Baldwin and Liman previously worked together on A&E’s 14-episode documentary series, The uneXplained, which focused on metaphysical phenomena. Perry is represented by WME and Ziffren Brittenham. Kader is represented by WME, and the agency is packaging the hot button feature project.