A biopic of fashion model and human rights activist Waris Dirie will be jointly produced by Elton John’s Rocket Pictures and Lysette Anthony’s Barnaby Films, the companies announced Tuesday.
Pic will be based on “Desert Flower,” a bio due for publication in September.
Laura Harrington (“Mississippi Mud”) and Barbara DeFina are scripting. Anthony and Rocket principals David Furnish and Polly Steele are producing.
Dirie, who escaped an arranged marriage in Somalia, was discovered working at a fast-food restaurant. Within weeks, she was modeling for the Pirelli Calendar and found herself thrust into the cutthroat world of high-fashion modeling.
In an appearance on ABC with Barbara Walters, Dirie described the horrific details of a genital circumcision that she was forced to undergo as a child. Dirie now acts as a roving ambassador for the United Nations, speaking out against female genital mutilation.
Anthony, an actress who starred in “Husbands and Wives” as Sydney Pollack’s ditsy girlfriend, grew interested with Dirie’s story after reading a magazine article.
“I just thought Waris’ story would make an incredible film,” Anthony said. “Rocket Pictures was the first company I approached in England. Luckily, we both had the same vision — that we could create a commercial film that would break your heart yet also make you cheer.”
The deal for Dirie, the scribes and the production companies was brokered by Nick Harris of London Management in the U.K., Lee Keele of the Gersh Agency and Christy Fletcher of the Carol Mann Agency.