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Berlin-based Senator Film is on board to coproduce Volker Schloendorff’s “Pope Joan” with UFA Filmproduktion, which acquired rights to the story last year.

Michael Hirst (“Elizabeth”) is penning the script, based on the novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross about the ninth-century woman who, disguised as a man, became a monk and eventually pope.

Senator Intl. will handle worldwide rights and is peddling the pic in Cannes.

Schloendorff says, “Pictorially, this story has an incredibly rich palette. It moves from Northern Europe, to Rome in the south, which was still emerging from the age of the gladiator.” Pic will likely be shot in Romania, Italy and Studio Babelsberg this year.

“This is not only a legend that has maintained people’s fascination for over a millennium, but also a story of faith, romance, intrigue and historical sweep,” says Senator CEO Hanno Huth.

Against huge odds, Joan pursued her insatiable thirst for knowledge. In Berlin recently to meet with Schloendorff and coproducer Norbert Sauer, CEO of UFA Filmproduktion, Cross tells Variety that the story remains topical, “especially in countries like Afghanistan and Algiers.”