Wargnier skeds saga of ‘Man’

Scott Thomas to play pygmy hunter in epic

French indie Wild Bunch is handling international sales on Regis Wargnier’s $28 million “Man to Man,” the Gallic helmer’s first English-language project that stars Kristin Scott Thomas.

An epic set in Scotland and Africa, the pic is about the prejudices of early anthropologists who capture pygmies and bring them back to Europe, aiming to prove that they are the missing link between man and apes. Scott Thomas plays a big game hunter who helps to capture the pygmies.

The screenplay was penned by William Boyd, Michel Fessler, Frederic Foujent and Wargnier. The film, which will go into pre-production this fall and begin shooting next January or February, is being produced by Farid Lahoussa and Aissa Djabri of Vertigo, the company behind the hugely successful French comedy franchise “La verite si je mens.”

The pic is Wargnier’s first since the 2000 “East West.” The director’s “Indochine” won the foreign film Oscar for 1992.

Like both of those films, “Man to Man” will be shot in exotic locations — in this case, the sites range from the African jungle to castles in Scotland, where the pygmies are held captive. It will feature African actors rather than pygmies, Wargnier has decided.

Says the helmer: “We couldn’t impose on real pygmies the same ordeal that we are describing in the film.”

Although the story is a fiction, “it is based on things that actually happened,” the helmer says.

While he says pic will have a sweeping, epic quality, “it will focus close-up on the shift in the relationship between the pygmies and one of the anthropologists who communicate despite not being able to speak to one another.”

Wargnier will scout locations in South Africa next month.

Vertigo has two other projects in development: a third episode of “La verite si jen mens,” which is being written by scribe Jean-Loup Dabadie, and “Iznogoud,” a live-action adaptation of a popular cartoon that will star the hot French comic Michael Youn. Patrick Braoude will helm.

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