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Helmer takes up ‘Dancing’

Riklis to direct adaptation of Kashua's 'Arabs'

Israeli director Eran Riklis (“The Syrian Bride,” “Lemon Tree”) is attached to direct “Dancing Arabs,” an adaptation of Israeli Arab Sayed Kashua’s semi-autobiographical bestseller of the same title, about growing up as an Arab in Israel.

Kashua has adapted his own book.

“Dancing” is set up at Tel Aviv-based United Channels Movies, co-owned by Israeli entrepreneur Avraham Pirchi, whose credits include the Toronto 2010-selected “The Matchmaker” and “Mabul” (The Flood), which world preems at Berlin.

Madrid-based 6 Sales is handling international sales.

Kashua’s ironic but good-humored novel “Dancing” relates how, as a small-town Arab student whose good grades gained him admission to an elite Jewish boarding school, a boy finds advantages in assuming the Israeli identity of a friend.

“The novel’s about someone who changes in order to survive,” Kashua said at Berlin.

Riklis said he imagined making “Dancing Arabs” into a film in the style of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s 1977 “Padre Padrone,” but with more humor.

According to Pirchi, UCM aimed to structure “Arabs” as an Israel-Germany-Canada-France co-production. All three countries have co-production treaties with Israel. “Arabs” will shoot late fall 2011.

Riklis, in post on “Playoff,” scored one of the biggest triumphs of his career at Berlin with “Lemon Tree.” The drama played to acclaim in Panorama in 2008, winning the audience award, and also racked up major territory sales during the festival.

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