Helmer Forman fires up ‘Embers’

Scribe Carriere will adapt 'forgotten masterpiece'

Helmer Milos Forman is attached to direct a screen adaptation of Sandor Marai’s Hungarian novel “Embers,” which screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere will adapt for producer Robert Haggiag.

The independent project has yet to find a home, but Haggiag is putting together the financing.

First published in 1942 in Budapest, “Embers” is considered a forgotten masterpiece in literary circles. Knopf published it Stateside last year, and it will be released in paperback in September.

Story concerns two old men, once best friends, who meet again after a 41-year break in their relationship. Book explores the themes of jealousy, love, possession and status.

Forman and Carriere first worked together on “Taking Off” (1971), the former’s debut American directorial effort; they reteamed 18 years later on “Valmont.”

“When I acquired the rights to Sandor Marai’s moving oeuvre, I immediately envisioned Milos as the director best suited to bring ‘Embers’ to life on the screen,” Haggiag said.

“When Milos suggested Jean-Claude as his preferred screenwriter for this motion picture, I was very pleased, as I have admired Jean-Claude’s work ever since he wrote Bunuel’s ‘Diary of a Chamber Maid,’ which I co-produced. I am thrilled to be working on such an exciting project together with such outstanding talent.”

” ‘Embers’ is about fire,” Carriere said. “A fire within, a secret fire. I know that Milos Forman and Robert Haggiag are men of fire. It’s a real challenge to burn together.”

Forman, repped by his long-term agent Robert Lantz, won Oscars as director of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus.”

Carriere has written or co-scripted more than 50 produced screenplays, including “Belle de Jour,” “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

He collaborated with Luis Bunuel for 19 years and worked extensively with Jean-Louis Barrault and Peter Brook, adapting such classic plays as Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “Measure for Measure.”

Haggiag has produced, co-produced and financed more than 50 pictures. Credits include John Huston’s “Moulin Rouge,” Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “The Barefoot Contessa,” Anthony Mann’s “El Cid,” Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita” and Luchino Visconti’s “The Damned.” He also produced-financed many Italian films, including Vittorio de Sica’s “Shoeshine” and Pietro Germi’s “Signore e signori.”

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