Euro pics recharge Black Power

Panther projects in works center on lives of Angela Davis, Bobby Seale

The Black Panthers are making a comeback. Two English-language European film projects aim to bring leading figures from the Black Power movement of the 1960s to the big screen soon.

Franco-Algerian producer-writer-director Rachid Bouchareb, whose "London River" screens in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival, is setting up a movie on the early life of Angela Davis, a leading figure of the civil rights movement and one-time FBI renegade.

Meanwhile, Berlin-based Egoli Tossell Films, whose latest picture, "Hilde," screens as a Berlinale Special Gala, is in preproduction on a feature based on Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale.

Davis became a cause celebre when she was fired from her post as a professor at UCLA for being a Communist. She later found herself on the FBI's most-wanted list after guns used in a fatal courtroom breakout were traced to her. She eventually was acquitted.

Bouchareb plans to shoot in summer 2010 with a budget in the region of $20 million-$30 million. The script is by novelist Yasmina Khadra, whose book "The Attack" has been optioned by Focus Features. Bouchareb has his lead actress firmly in mind: "I want Beyonce Knowles to play Angela Davis," he said.

Egoli Tossell's film is titled "A Lonely Rage" and is based on Seale's autobiography. Alongside Panther co-founder Huey Newton, Seale adopted the radical stance of "freedom by any means" and faced trial on charges of inciting riots and murder. The charges eventually were dropped.

Paul Herzberg is writing the script for "Rage," with Seale as a consultant. Egoli Tossell head Jens Meurer is producing. (partialdiff)