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Valverde to costar in ‘Mule’

Spanish Civil War pic to be directed by Michael Radford

MADRID — Maria Valverde, who took the title role in Italian hit “Melissa P.,” is set to costar in Spanish Civil War dramatic comedy “La Mula” (The Mule), with Michael Radford (“Il Postino,” “The Merchant of Venice”) attached to direct.

“Mule” turns on a soldier, Juan Castro, who finds a mule on the battlefield, and hides it among his company’s other mules. The animal accompanies him during his crossgrained experiences as the Civil War draws to a close.

Screenplay is by Juan Eslava Galan, adapting his novel of the same title.

Skedded to shoot September or October 2007, project is shaping up as Radford’s next after he finishes “Flawless.” It will also be his first sally into Spanish-language filmmaking.

“Michael speaks excellent Spanish. In a film set against the Spanish Civil War, it seems more authentic to shoot in Spanish. And the feedback we’re getting from the market is that the film is more attractive in Spanish,” said Bruce St. Clair, who exec produces “Mule” with Alejandra Frade, both at Madrid’s Gheko Films. Soledad Gatti-Pascual at London’s The Bureau co-produces.

Pic’s budget is Euros 8 million-Euros 9 million ($10.5 million-$11.8 million).

Valverde’s femme-lede role will be more defined after a rewrite, to be delivered in January, St. Clair added.