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March 13, 2018

Madonna Jumping In Director’s Chair Again For Michaela DePrince Biopic ‘Taking Flight’

If first you don’t succeed, try and try again.  That’s clearly the motto for pop icon Madonna when it comes to her directing career.  She initially experimented with filmmaking with the little seen indie “Filth and Wisdom” in 2008 and then made an impressive (in context) step forward with the problematic “W.E.” in 2011.  Now, the Material Girl has signed on for her third helming effort, “Taking Flight” for MGM.

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The biopic will tell the story of ballerina Michaela DePrince who escaped the war zone of Sierra Leone and eventually became a soloist for the Dutch National Ballet.  Camilla Blackett’s screenplay is an adaptation of DePrince and her mother Elaine’s memoir “Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.”

In 1999, at the age of four, Michaela was adopted by the DePrince family, a New Jersey couple who have 11 children, nine of whom are adopted.  She pursued her dream of becoming a ballet dancer even though she faced racial discrimination at numerous points in her career.  She first came to prominence as a subject in the 2011 documentary “First Position” and previously danced with the Dance Theater of Harlem.

In a statement Madonna, who has four adopted children of her own, noted, “Michaela’s journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity.  We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside.  I am honored to bring her story to life.”

Granted, you may skoff at the idea of Madonna directing again, but she certainly has taste.  She cast the little known Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Dormer and Oscar Issac in “W.E.” hired up and coming composer Abel Korzeniowski (“A Single Man”), the incredibly underrated cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski (“The Lives of Others”) and Oscar-winning production designer Martin Childs (“The Crown”).  At worst, you know a Madonna movie is going to look phenomenal.  The question is whether she can truly master directing actors.  At times Riseborough seemed like she was in another movie in “W.E.” and the film features one of the worst performances of Abbie Cornish’s career (which is saying something).

No word on when “Taking Flight” will go into production, but it will likely delay the pop star’s next album and/or tour which is significant.  Her 2016 “Rebel Heart Tour” sold over 1 million tickets and grossed $169.8 million.

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