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Joann Sfar directs ‘Rabbi’s Cat’

2-D cartoon based on popular novel

Comicbook artist Joann Sfar, who was recently tapped to direct “Gainsbourg, vie heroique,” has also taken on helming duties on a 2-D toon based on his most popular novel, “The Rabbi’s Cat.”

Sfar co-directs with Antoine Delesvaux, who produces via Autochenille, the Paris-based shingle launched by Sfar, Delesvaux and comicbook artist Clement Oubrerie in 2007.

Winner of the Eisner Award and translated into 15 languages, “Cat” is Autochenille’s first project.

TF1 Intl. will co-produce with pubcaster web France 3, and has picked up the film’s international and video rights. “Cat” has been pre-bought in Gaul by France 3, Canal Plus and Cinecinema.

The e12.5 million ($17.5 million) pic is expected to bow in France beginning 2010.

Set in Algeria, the graphic novel centers on a cat who wants to convert to Judaism to win the heart of its owner, a rabbi’s daughter. Mixing humor, poetry and politics, the film subtly deals with religious tolerance.

Toon will be voiced by Hafsia Herzi (“The Secret of the Grain”) and Francois Morel.

“We aim at making author-driven, challenging films to appeal to children and adults,” Delesvaux said.

Up next, Oubrerie will direct “Aya de Yopougon,” based on the book by Marguerite Abouet that he illustrated.

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