Portman signs deal with Participant

Actress inks two-year production pact with co.

Natalie Portman has inked a two-year production deal with Participant Prods. for her newly formed Handsomecharlie Films shingle.

Banner’s first project is “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” on which Portman plans to make her feature helming debut. Story is based on the bestselling memoir of Amos Oz, with Naomi Foner (“Running on Empty”) in negotiations to adapt the screenplay. That project, however, is not set up at Participant.

Annette Savitch has been tapped veep of development for L.A.-based Handsomecharlie Films, which will develop socially relevant films.

Portman said she was inspired by Participant’s mandate to produce such forward-thinking projects as “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“We all have the same desire to make meaningful and artistically fulfilling films and are committed to the idea of stories leading to greater empathy and action for world issues,” Portman said.

Participant prexy Ricky Strauss lauded Portman for her interest “in projects that entertain and empower.” He added: “She has the heart of an artist and an activist. It just seems like a natural relationship, and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Portman will be seen in the upcoming “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “My Blueberry Nights.”

In addition to her acting career, she works on behalf of a number of causes, most notably serving as the ambassador of hope for Finca, an international microfinance organization that provides financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs.

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