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Roth, Steiger feed Di Jiacomo’s ‘Animals’

NEW YORK — Tim Roth, Mili Avital, Rod Steiger and Barbara Bain are starring in “Animals,” the feature film debut of writer-director Michael Di Jiacomo.

In “Animals,” Roth plays a cynical New York cabbie who is taken on a strange ride by three eccentric passengers. After landing in a rural town, he meets Avital, with whom he discovers both the necessity and the impossibility of pursuing a shared dream.

Former Disney production exec Gabrielle Tana is producing “Animals,” which is being jointly financed by Paris-based Pandora Cinema and Munich-based Hollywood Pictures. Tana recently produced Pandora’s “Someone Else’s America,” which was released in the U.S. by October Films.

A grad of New York U.’s graduate film program and a former writing-directing fellow at the Sundance Institute, Di Jiacomo has produced and directed several shorts, including “The Lost Treasure of Captain Cornelius ‘Deadeye’ Tuckett.”

An Oscar nominee last year for his performance in “Rob Roy,” Roth collaborated with Di Jiacomo on the director’s Sundance Lab project, “Souls Without Reason.” Roth recently appeared in “Gridlock’d” and Woody Allen’s “Everyone Says I Love You.”

A leading stage and screen actress in her native Israel, Avital starred in the sci-fi hit “Stargate” and in Jim Jar-musch’s “Dead Man.” She will next appear with Claire Danes, Gabriel Byrne and Lena Olin in Fox Searchlight’s “Polish Wedding.”

Best known for his roles in classics “On the Waterfront” and “In the Heat of the Night,” Oscar-winner Steiger re-cently appeared in Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!” Bain is a three-time Emmy winner for her role in the classic TV series “Mission: Impossible.”

“Animals” also features John Turturro (“Box of Moonlight”), veteran actor Mickey Rooney and Lothaire Bluteau (“Jesus of Montreal”).

Cinematographer Alik Sakhavov has begun principal photography on the pic in South Carolina. After several weeks of lensing there, it will move to Gotham for one week.

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