LOCARNO— “The Love of Men” (“L’Amour des hommes”), a new project from Tunisian Mehdi Ben Attia, has been pitched the last several days days at Locarno’s co-production lab Open Doors.
The main character will be played by rising French thesp Hafsia Herzi (Abdellatif Kechiche’s “The Secret of the Grain,” Bertrand Bonello’s “House of Tolerance”), Ben Attia told Variety.
Herzi took Venice’s Marcello Mastroianni Award and the most promising actress award at the Cesars in 2008 for “Grain.”
Helmer-actor-writer Ben Attia’s previous films include Claudia Cardinale starrer “The String” and “I Am Not Dead,” with Maria de Medeiros.
“Love” centers on a young woman. “She is a photographer and she makes portraits. The film’s form and content join together in this idea. ‘Love’ is a ‘film portrait’. I want to take advantage of cinema resources in order to observe human beings in depth,” Ben Attia said.
In French and Arabic, “Love” portrays Amel, a 25-year-old photographer who has to find a new life after the devastating death of her beloved husband in a conservative Muslim environment.
Pic is also “a portrait of a country and a city that have gone through enormous changes in recent years, but where one is still struck, first and foremost, by the persistence of certain social structures and mentalities,” Ben Attia added.
Budgeted at $1.3 million, “Love” is produced by Paris-based David Mathieu-Mahias’ 4 A 4 Productions (Jacques Doillon’s “A Child of Yours,” Barmak Akram’s “Kabuli Kid”). Belgium’s Neon Rouge co-produces.
The film is in pre-production, with a third of the budget secured. “Love” is scheduled to begin main lensing in November.