Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan is planning a film on late Taiwanese author Sanmao, with production intended to take place in 2018.

Kwan revealed the plan to Variety while serving jury duty at the inaugural International Film Festival & Awards Macao, which runs until December 13. The director is one of the five-member international jury to assess the 12 films competing for nine awards in the former Portuguese colony.

“When I was in Taiwan for the Golden Horse Film Awards in 1989, some investors asked me if I wanted to meet Sanmao because they wanted to make a film about her. But I felt that it wasn’t the right time, and I wasn’t ready to do the project back then,” said Kwan. His previous credits include “Center Stage” and “Rouge”.

“It was not possible to do this 10 or even 20 years ago. But now the timing is right. The market is one reason. The China market is one of the world’s biggest film markets and nowadays Sanmao’s writing is becoming very popular among young people in China. Her work has a great influence over a few generations of Chinese people.”

Born in 1943 in Chongqing as Chen Mao Ping, who went by with English name Echo Chan, Sanmao was an acclaimed author and novelist. She moved to Taiwan at the age of six and published her first essay when she was 19. She was fluent in English, Spanish and German and wrote 20 books. Her last work was the script for movie “Red Dust.” She died in 1991 in Taiwan at the age of 47.

One of Sanmao’s most acclaimed titles “The Stories of Sahara,” published in 1976, will serve as the blueprint for Kwan’s project. The book is an autobiography of the late author and her Spanish husband Jose Maria Quero y Ruiz on their lives in Sahara Desert.

Kwan said Sanmao was a literary legend who had a huge influence on him. He said the project was still at a very preliminary stage and production will not take place until 2018. No details of budget, production company or cast attachments are yet available, though Kwan described it as a major undertaking.

“It is big not because it will involve a great deal of computer generated special effects, but because the story will involve location shooting in Madrid, West Africa, the Canary Islands and Taipei,” he said.

“The casting will be very challenging for the lead roles. We need an actress who not only embodies the character of Sanmao, who lived a life true to her nature. She also has to be very talented in languages as she will need to speak Spanish in the film.”