Columbia, Mann cop Capa

Duo team on film based on renowned war photog

Columbia Pictures and director Michael Mann will team to tell the story of renowned war photographer Robert Capa, with a closeup on his torrid two-year romance with fellow photog Gerda Taro during the Spanish Civil War.

The studio has acquired “Waiting for Robert Capa,” a Spanish-language novel by Spain’s Susana Fortes, and set Jez Butterworth to adapt it.

Mann will produce through his Forward Pass banner.

The story begins in Paris in 1935, where Capa, a refugee from fascist Hungary, met Taro, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War a year later began Capa’s emergence as the most renowned war photographer ever and established Taro as the first frontline female battle photographer. She was killed in the Battle of Brunete in 1937.

Mann, who also directed biopic “Ali,” had long wanted to find a way to make a film about Capa and found his way in through the Fortes novel. Capa was shattered by Taro’s death, and though he’d later romance the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Capa never married.

Some 4,300 photos taken mostly by Capa and Taro during the Spanish Civil War were recently discovered, and the images will be the subject of a show to be held at Manhattan’s Intl. Center of Photography in fall 2010.

Mann, who last directed the Johnny Depp starrer “Public Enemies” for Universal Pictures, intends to make a gritty, low-budget film. He chose Butterworth based on his play “Jerusalem” and for a James Brown biopic that Butterworth wrote with his brother John-Henry Butterworth. The writers also teamed on the script for “Fair Game,” the Doug Liman-directed adaptation of the Valerie Plame memoir that stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

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