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General News of Thursday, 20 September 2001

Source: Reel Films

White, Unemployed - and a Reincarnated African King?

Reel Films Completes Production on Documentary Feature 'Togbe'

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Henk Otte, on the surface, has none of the qualities associated with being a king. In fact, he is an unemployed construction worker living on disability in the projects of Amsterdam. However, to the 300,000 people of Mepe -- an impoverished village in Ghana -- this ordinary man has what it takes to be a ruler.

The odyssey began in 1995, when Henk Otte traveled to Mepe to meet his wife's Ghanaian family. A tribal elder had a vision of a white man from abroad, a reincarnation of their beloved king, who would help save the town from its economic plight.

Enter Otte, charmed by Mepe's people and genuinely interested in assisting in the village's development. The tribal elder's revelation was fulfilled, and Otte was soon hailed and crowned a chief. Or, as it is known in Ghana, Togbe.

But Otte's unlikely new role as Togbe was not sanctioned by all. A Ghanaian organization in New York took issue with Otte's royal position. A movement to dismiss him was born, covering three continents and reaching as high as Ghana's foreign minister.

Regardless of his detractors, Otte remains steadfast in his commitment to the villagers of Mepe. In Holland, he has created a foundation to help Mepe, and spends his time raising funds and awareness to assist its people. He brings many donations, including medical equipment, school supplies, water pumps and toys, to Ghana. Last year was Otte's fifth anniversary as Togbe.

This unique story sparked the attention of five New York University film school alumni who gathered their various talents to film this documentary. From this experience they formed a production company called Reel Films. ``Togbe'' is Reel Films' first completed project, with two other documentaries in pre-production.

``Togbe'' co-director Rob Aitro's first impression of Otte's story was ``Cool -- Homer Simpson gets a kingdom.'' But, Aitro continues, ``as we dug a little deeper we found the heart of the story: A simple man whose life was given new meaning by the citizens of a country worlds from his own.''

Don Morrow, the voice of hundreds of movie trailers including ``Titanic'' and ``Saving Private Ryan'', is the narrator of ``Togbe.'' His is the signature voice on the USA Network, and he has narrated 40 biographies that have appeared on the A&E Network and E! Entertainment Channel.

For additional information, please contact David Klawans, of Reel Films, (310) 213-1132.

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