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Schepisi sets Vietnam tale

Helmer mans Oz war story

SYDNEY — Director Fred Schepisi is preparing for war — specifically, Vietnam.

Schepisi is attached to direct “Last Man,” based on the true story of a five-man Australian special forces squad inserted behind enemy lines in the jungle in the dying days of the war.

Script, based on the book “Uncertain Fate,” by Vietnam vet Graham Brammer, later looks at the same men as they gather for a reunion at their sergeant’s funeral 10 years later.

Budgeted at $28 million, pic will be an Oz-U.K. co-production. Martin Brown (“Moulin Rouge”) is producing, along with George Mannix and Warwick Young in Australia and the U.K.’s Parallel Pictures.

Casting is being negotiated. Production is due to begin Down Under early next year.

IAC’s Michael Ryan is introducing the project to buyers at the AFM.

“Last Man” is a “story from the past, timed to resonate in the present. It shows what warriors do in war and the price they pay for doing it,” said Brown, who has a busy dance card, with his talking koala film “Russell” due to roll in March, with Russell Mulcahy helming.

“The powerful reality of the story is intertwined with a poetry of emotions rarely seen,” said Schepisi, who is soon to deliver “Empire Falls,” starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Helen Hunt, Ed Harris and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Brammer wrote the first draft of “Last Man,” then worked on subsequent drafts with Chris Wheeler and Ian Barry. The producers have done a polish and Schepisi will do a director’s pass before pre-production.

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