Saban Films has acquired North American distribution rights to Roland Joffé’s South African drama “The Forgiven,” starring Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana.

Joffe is directing from a script he co-wrote with Michael Ashton based on Ashton’s play “The Archbishop and The Antichrist.” Whitaker portrays Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s work as in post-apartheid South Africa and his struggle with brutal murderer Piet Blomfeld (Bana).

The film is currently in production. WME Global handled North American rights, with 13 Films handling international sales at the upcoming American Film Market.

Joffe, whose credits include “The Killing Fields” and “The Scarlet Letter,” is also producing with Link Entertainment’s Craig Baumgarten (“Hook,” “Shattered Glass”)  and Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat of Light & Dark Films, with financing being provided by The Fyzz Facility.

Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley said: “The depth in ‘The Forgiven’ is unnerving, something Roland Joffé is known for. Whitaker and Bana’s history of prestigious dramatic roles is something we know will translate into this film, they are experts within the genre and we’re eager to see their characters transform on-screen.”

Kim Ashton, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones, John R. Sherman, Tannaz Anisi, Greg Schenz, Jeff Gum, Jeff Rice, Lee Broda executive produced.

Joffe has been developing the  project for several years with Whitaker starring. Vince Vaughn was attached to “the Forgiven” last year for the Blomfeld part, now filled by  Bana.  

Saban Films most recently acquired Sean Penn’s “The Last Face,” starring Penn, Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, and Jonathan Mostow’s” The Hunter’s Prayer,” starring Sam Worthington and newcomer Odeya Rush at the Toronto International Film Festival.