ROME – Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski (“Ida”) is set to direct “Limonov,” an ambitious adaptation of French author Emmanuele Carrere’s novelized biography of radical Russian poet and political dissident Eduard Limonov.
The Polish-born Pawlikowski has completed the screenplay for the biopic, which recounts “The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia,” as the extended title of the book’s English translation reads. The film is set for a 2018 shoot.
Limonov was a Soviet underground idol under Leonid Brezhnev; a butler to a millionaire in Manhattan; a writer in Paris; and more recently the charismic leader of Russia’s National Bolshevik Party.
The biopic will be in the languages of the places where it’s set, which are Russia, New York, and Paris.
Italy’s Wildside, which is owned by FremantleMedia, is co-producing “Limonov” with French producer Dimitri Rassam’s Chapter 2, the company behind “The Little Prince.” The budget is about €16 million ($19 million). Warner Bros. Italia will be the film’s Italian distributor. Talks are underway for a world sales company to come on board.
Wildside’s Mario Gianani, Lorenzo Mieli and Lorenzo Gangarossa are the lead producers.
Wildside won a bidding war in 2013 for rights to “Limonov,” which has been a bestseller in Italy and France, where it won the Prix Renaudot in 2011. Carrere’s book has also been named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers.
Carrere is board as a consultant.
“Pavel has done a great job on the screenplay,” said Gianani, noting that Carrere’s novel “was a re-interpretation of the Limonov character” and that “the film will be even more so.” British writer-director Ben Hopkins collaborated with Pawlikowski on the script.
Casting for the Russian actor who will play the lead has just started in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Pawlikowski first intersected with Limonov when the director shot 1992 Bosnian War BBC documentary “Serbian Epics” and filmed him in the company of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who was found guilty last year of crimes against humanity.
Pawlikowski won the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film for “Ida” in 2015. His upcoming Poland-set period romance “Cold War,” now in post-production, was acquired in August by Amazon Studios.