AFM: Freida Pinto's 'Desert Dancer' Picked

Iran-set drama to be released in 2014

Relativity has acquired North America distribution rights to “Desert Dancer,” starring Freida Pinto, Reece Ritchie and Tom Cullen (“Downton Abbey”).

The deal was unveiled at the American Film Market, where 6 Sales is selling international markets. Relativity plans to release the film theatrically in 2014.

“Desert Dancer” is set in Iran — where dance is forbidden — and based on the story of Afshin Ghaffarian, who risked everything to fight for his dream of becoming a dancer. Ritchie plays Ghaffarian, whose story is set against the backdrop of the 2009 protests that ignited a movement toward greater freedoms.

Richard Raymond is making his directorial debut with the film, written by Jon Croker with choreography by Akram Khan (London Olympics Opening Ceremony).

Pippa Cross, Richard Raymond, Izabella Miko and Luis Astorquia are producing. The film is a May 13 Films and Rostik Investment Group presentation in association with Sarah Arison Prods., Green Light Films, Starland Prods., BluePencilSet, LipSync Prods. and 6 Sales.

Relativity president Tucker Tooley said, “’Desert Dancer’ is an important movie that was exceptionally made, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

“Desert Dancer” has a dozen exec producers: Sarah Arison, Fabiola Beracasa, Jason Beckman, Sally Greene, Marina Fuentes Arredonda, Jeremy Cowdrey, Mohammed Al Turki, Hamza Talhouni, Peter Hampden, Norman Merry, Nigel Thomas and Rick Porras.

The deal was negotiated by Douglas Stone at Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder, CAA for the producers, and Rosalind Lawton for Relativity.

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