‘Promised Land’ finds director

Brit filmmaker Michael Winterbottom will make Arab-Israeli pic

LONDON — Brit filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is diving into the Arab-Israeli conflict by choosing “Promised Land” as his next feature.

Project recounts the lead up to the 1948 partition of Palestine and the subsequent creation of the state of Israel.

Pic is bound to raise eyebrows on both sides of the divide with its depiction of Jewish militant groups launching terror attacks against British forces and Arabs during their campaign for statehood.

Jim Sturgess (“Across the Universe,” “21”) will star as a British officer hunting down the extremist Jewish factions.

The $5 million project, which is set to start lensing in the summer, will be produced by Winterbottom’s partner Andrew Eaton through their Revolution Films.

Public sector funding org. the U.K. Film Council helped developed the project.

“Promised Land”is the latest project dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict by Western filmmakers.

Julian Schnabel is in production on “Miral,” starring Hiam Abbas and Freida Pinto, for Pathe. Pic is about real-life Palestinian nurse Hind Husseini, who created the Dar Al-Tifi orphanage in Jerusalem in 1948.

“The Queen” producer Andy Harries is developing a Gaza-based feature starring Helen Mirren as a Jewish woman whose journo daughter is murdered while covering events in the Gaza Strip.

Serbian helmer Emir Kusturica is also set to start production on “Cool Water,” about two Palestinian brothers who smuggle the dead body of their father from Jerusalem to Ramallah as they are pursued by Israeli police, Russian mobsters and a terrorist gang.

Winterbottom, too, has displayed a fascination with politics in the Middle East and Muslim world.

“A Mighty Heart,” starring Angelina Jolie, retold the story of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was executed by Islamic fundamentalist in Pakistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

“In This World” looked at Afghan refugees attempting to get asylum in the U.K., while docudrama “The Road to Guantanamo,” which won the Golden Bear at Berlin, followed the true story of three British Muslims held in Guantanamo Bay for two years until they were released without charge.

Winterbottom’s latest pic, “The Killer Inside Me,” receives it world preem at Sundance, which began on Thursday. Pic, which stars Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba, is about a Texan deputy sheriff who embarks on a killing spree.

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