Padilha also polishes 'Robocop' screenplay

RIO DE JANEIRO — Jose Padilha’s Cold Mountain Ent. and Mark Abraham and Eric Newman’s Strike Ent. are near ready to bring “Tri-Border” onto the market.

“Elite Squad” helmer Padilha, who is attached to direct “Tri-Border,” created the L.A.-based Cold Mountain in 2010 to produce his U.S. projects.

Cold Mountain and Strike are producing. Screenwriter Nick Shenk (“Gran Torino”) has now completed a shooting script, Padilha told Variety at the Rio Film Festival.

Padilha and Strike are talking to talent. Once it has talent and a budget, it will talk to potential distributors, Padilha said.

Co-developed by Padilha and Shenk, “Tri-Border” is set in the lawless lands on the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. It turns on a DEA agent who’s dispatched there, having fallen into disgrace for busting the son of a senator on drug charges. There he’s soon embroiled in conflicting law enforcement and myriad criminal orgs.

The Tri-Border, Padilha said, is like the Wild West with international gangsters: “The Tri-Border has the Chinese mob, Hasballah, Brazilian drug smugglers, Italian mobsters, the Russian mafia, Mossad, the CIA.”

Padilha is aiming to attract top actors of multiple nationalities.

Meanwhile, Shenk and Padilha are also polishing a third treatment of MGM’s “Robocop” reboot, which is penned by Josh Zetumer (“The Infiltrator,” “Dune”).

Padilha broke through with Berlinale Golden Bear-winner “Elite Squad,” which he co-wrote and directed. Beyond the second part in the saga, “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within,” Padilha has helmed the b/w Portuguese-language docu “Garapa,” a study of starvation seen at Berlin in 2009, and English-language “Secrets of the Tribe,” another docu-feature. A Sundance 2010 hit, it was made for BBC and Arte and sold to HBO.

Padilha is repped by CAA’s David Kopple.

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