Pathe financing American-Egyptian story

CASABLANCA, Morocco — Jake Eberts (“Open Range,” Chicken Run”) is producing “Whatever Lola Wants,” starring Laura Ramsey (“She’s the Man”) for Jerome Seydoux’s Pathe in France.

The American-Egyptian tale of femme friendship and belly dancing is financed by Pathe, which also handles worldwide rights. Pic is the English-language debut of Moroccan helmer Nabil Ayouch (“Ali Zaoua,” “A Minute of Sun Less”).

Pierre Grunstein exec produces, Leonard Glowinski is associate producer.

Written by Ayouch, Jane Hawksley and Nathalie Saugeon, pic costs north of $12 million, said Eberts, which is a huge step-up in budget for a Moroccan filmmaker.

Pic concerns Brooklyn postal worker Lola, who follows her Egyptian lover to Cairo, and, cold-shouldered, takes belly-dancing lessons from legendary-but-disgraced Egyptian dancer Ismahan (Lebanon’s Carmen Lebbos).

“Lola’s” 12-week shoot began in New York Sept. 30. Currently shooting New York interiors in Casablanca, it transfers for a final 10 days in Cairo from mid-December.

Ramsey spent five months training at belly and jazz dancing.

“The role’s biggest challenge is the dancing. You need a couple of months to belly dance in your heart and soul,” Ramsey said, on set in Casablanca.

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