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Helmer finally unveils ‘Justice’

Dehlavi offers Muslim pic for world preem

CANNES — British-Asian helmer Jamil Dehlavi brings a Muslim take on the post 9/11 world with “Infinite Justice.”

Making its world preem at Cannes market, pic is about a Jewish-American reporter held hostage by Muslim fundamentalists in Karachi, Pakistan. Though inspired by the real-life tragedy of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter killed by Islamic extremists in 2002, Dehlavi is quick to point out that pic is not based on Pearl. “It’s a re-imagining,” he said.

Pic has been a labor of love for Dehlavi, who has spent four years getting the project off the ground. As well as co-ordinating the global shoot near single-handedly — pic was shot in New York, London and Karachi — Dehlavi had difficulty raising the finance for the politically sensitive project.

“We had two false starts when at the last minute financiers dropped out,” he said.

Not that money was the only issue. Dehlavi also had to convince pic’s lead, Kevin Collins, to shoot in Karachi.

“He was initially wary of going there because of the anti-American feeling and playing a character similar to Daniel Pearl. I convinced him by bringing my wife and son out to the set to show him it was safe,” said Dehlavi.

Pic’s preem comes in the wake of a wave of 9/11 projects, including “United 93,” Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center,” which is unspooling 20 minutes of footage at Cannes, as well as the recently announced “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” with Josh Lucas in the title role.

Dehlavi has already received enquiries from distribs in U.S., Europe and the Mideast to acquire foreign rights, although pic is unlikely to screen in helmer’s native Pakistan.

“It’s a sensitive subject and people in Pakistan are afraid to deal with it but the role of a filmmaker is to take up these issues and explore them. Unless you understand where the terror is coming from, the world is going to be a dangerous place,” said Dehlavi.

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