Pathe takes ‘Whatever’

Film to start lensing in September

France’s Pathe will take most French rights and international on “Whatever Lola Wants,” a tale of East-West femme friendship and belly dancing from Moroccan helmer Nabil Ayouch.

Pathe is acquiring French theatrical, video and free-to-air TV, plus worldwide rights outside Canada.

With three Arabic-language art films under his belt — “Mektoub” (1997), “Ali Zoua” (2000) and “One Minute of Sun Less” (2003) — Casablanca-based Ayouch is the leading light of a new generation of Moroccan helmers who are bringing international styles to local filmmaking.

Pic follows Lola, a New York postal worker who travels to Cairo to take lessons from legendary but disgraced belly dancer Ismahan.

Rolling in September, “Whatever” shoots in New York, Montreal, Cairo and Morocco, produced by France’s BC Films, Canada’s Transfilms and Ayouch’s Ali n’ Prods.

The $7 million-$8 million budget is normal for an international production, but way above average for most Arab helmers.

London-based Egyptian pop singer Natacha Atlas will play Ismahan, and French-born Moroccan Said Taghmaoui (“Three Kings,” “Beyond Friendship”) plays Lola’s friend Zack. Role of Lola will be cast shortly.

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