Bigscreen adaptation of Chinese bestseller

Helmer Bruce Beresford is readying a bigscreen adaptation of Chinese bestseller “Mao’s Last Dancer.”

Book is the autobiography of Li Cunxin, a Chinese peasant-turned- ballet dancer who ultimately defected. Tome was first published in 2003 and has been sold in 20 countries. Screenplay is by Jan Sardi, who previously scripted “Shine.”

Beresford’s name has been attached to several projects that have yet to enter production, including another film set in China, “A Dream of Red Mansions,” with Kate Hudson tipped to star. But producer Jane Scott told Daily Variety, “While it is true that Bruce has lots of projects on offer, he has absolutely cleared the decks for ‘Mao’s Last Dancer.’ This is the next film he will make.”

Scott said lensing will begin in February in locations that include Australia and the U.S. With at least one-third of the film to be shot in China, pic will be structured as an “assisted co-production,” essentially a foreign movie on location, and will see Chinese characters speaking Chinese and all others using English.

While the project is neither cast nor financed, Scott said an international sales agent will be appointed soon.

(Michaela Boland in Sydney contributed to this report.)

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