Tessalit involved in ‘Affaire’

Paris-based company set to produce political thriller; Depardieu in talks to topline.

Rachid Bouchareb’s Paris-based company Tessalit is set to produce “Affaire etrangeres” (Foreign Affairs), a political thriller helmed by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri. Gerard Depardieu is in advanced negotiations to topline.

Budgeted between €8 million and €10 million ($10 million-$12 million) pic centers on a retired French diplomat (Depardieu) who’s secretly sent by the U.S. government to negotiate an agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“It’s extremely well-documented — it’s a passion project for Ziad (Doueiri) and he’s been writing and doing research for this movie on and off for nearly a decade,” said Jean Brehat, Bouchareb’s producing partner at Tessalit.

“It’s a film grounded in the tradition of American political thriller,” said Behat, explaining that the film is based on factual events. “We just made up the French diplomat’s character to connect all the dots.”

Script is ready and Tessalit will soon be casting for the roles of Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin, who all played a role in the signing of the agreement.

Bouchareb directed “Days of Glory” and “Outside of the Law,” both of which nabbed foreign-language Oscar noms. “Omar Killed Me,” the last film Bouchareb and Brehat produced, was nommed for two Cesar nods.

Doueiri is completing “The Attack,” a drama based on Yasmina Khadra’s novel. His 2003 pic “Lila Says” was a critical hit which played at Sundance among other fests.

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