NAIROBI, Kenya -- Oliver Stone wasn't satisfied that the screenplay of his latest film, "Beyond Borders," was realistic enough, so he's out scouting refugee camps to make sure he gets it right.
The film -- a love story between a doctor, played by Kevin Costner, and a young philanthropist, played by Angelina Jolie -- is set in refugee camps in Africa, Kosovo and Asia, and in London.
"Part of the fun of making movies for me is I explore the issues as I go, and I'm going to know a lot more in a year from now or five months from now than I do now," Stone said Monday after a week of touring refugee camps in northern Kenya.
He also had a quick look into neighboring southern Sudan with rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army before heading to Ethiopia and Kosovo.
A good chunk of the movie may be shot in Kenya, Stone said, which hasn't seen a major production since the early 1980s, when Sydney Pollack's "Out of Africa" made the East African nation a byword for African romanticism.
Stone said writer Caspian Treadwell-Owen, who worked on eight drafts over 1 1/2 years in his screenwriting debut, has done "a splendid but, I think, an unfinished job."
"That's part of the reason I'm plunging in right now is trying to rework this more in accordance with the realities I'm seeing firsthand."
Costner first worked with Stone in the controversial 1991 film "JFK."
The original female lead in "Beyond Borders" was to have been played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, but the project stalled and she got pregnant. Jolie, who won an Oscar this year for her role in "Girl, Interrupted," then signed on, Stone said.
Showing Stone the ropes were Mike O'Keefe, a longtime friend and a refugee program officer for the U.S. State Department, and Paul Stromberg, regional information officer for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
"He's a real reporter ... out there taking all these notes on little pieces of paper, reacting to the new arrivals from Sudan -- 'do you know that this woman walked 20 miles to get here!"' Stromberg said after visits with Stone to the Kakuma and Dadab camps, where about 250,000 people from Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda have been living for years.
Like many of his other films, "Beyond Borders" will not shy away from controversy, Stone said.
"There's always a controversy in this thing because there's a controversy of borders, there's a controversy of politics ... Then you have the whole issue of relief workers," Stone said.
The film will explore how expatriates administer aid, he said, and "the whole issue of whether relief camps should exist at all."
"I am going to enter into that, of course, but it's not for that reason to make the film. It's a very thorny issue. There are no easy answers."
Without giving figures, Stone said the film, to be produced by Mandalay Pictures and distributed by Paramount, will be "big budget" by world standards. Filming is scheduled to begin in the fall, and the tentative release date is December 2001.
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