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Bertolucci starts telepic

Italo helmer under 'Siege' in Rome

ROME — Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci will start shooting the telepic “The Siege” in Rome on Monday. The romantic drama stars British actors David Thewlis and Thandie Newton.

Financed by Italo pubcaster RAI and produced by Giuseppe Bertolucci for Fiction and Massimo Cortesi through Rome-based outfit Navert Film, the English-language television feature is based on a short story by British author James Lasdun, who co-wrote the 1997 Sundance prize winner “Sunday.” Bertolucci scripted with Clare Peploe.

The story focuses on a piano teacher’s (Thewlis) unrequited love for his African housekeeper (Newton), and the sacrifices he makes to help her campaign for her husband’s release from prison in Africa.

The pic will shoot for five weeks in Rome, with an additional week in Africa. International sales rights have not yet been assigned.

Best known for his role in Mike Leigh’s “Naked,” Thewlis recently completed “Divorcing Jack.” Newton has appeared in “Flirting,” “Jefferson in Paris” and “Gridlock’d,” among other pics.

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