Ziad Doueiri, whose Lebanon-set “The Insult” is competing at Venice Film Festival, is set to direct “Ghost Element,” a supernatural thriller that will mark his most ambitious film to date.
Reteaming Doueiri with his producer Jean Brehat at Paris-based banner Tessalit Prods., “Ghost Element” is based on “Le Tambour d’angoisse,” a novel written by B.R. Bruss and published by Marabout in 1973. The film will partly shoot in English.
Samuel and Victor Hadida at Metropolitan Filmexport, which worked with Brehat on Rachid Bouchareb’s “Belleville Cop,” are co-producing the film and will be distributing in France. They’re also taking international sales rights.
The story, adapted to present times, centers on a group of 12 scientists from different nationalities, ethnic backgrounds and religions, who are sent on a doomed mission to the Australian desert in order to find Thorium, a precious fuel. As the mission goes wrong, the group gets stuck in the desert and finds refuge in a cave. But strange things start happening and the scientists start dying after suffering from hallucinations or supernatural visions. Each death creates new tensions within the group and triggers latent conflicts between the scientists, some of whom are from the U.S., Syria and Israel.
Brehat said the film will different from other supernatural thrillers such as “The Thing” in that the fantastic elements are suggested rather than seen but it will be as suspenseful.
Brehat said he was confident Douieri had the skills to deliver commercial fare due to his training in the U.S. Douieri started his career working as first camera assistant on Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Jackie Brown.”
While “Ghost Element” is meant to be Doueiri’s most mainstream film, it will be politically-minded, in line with Doueiri’s films “The Insult” and ‘The Attack,” said Brehat.
“The Insult” (repped by Indie Sales) turns on a trivial incident between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee that degenerates into a highly publicized trial and ends up dividing Palestinians and Lebanese Christian communities. “The Attack,” meanwhile, centered on a renowned Arab surgeon living in Israel who discovers that his wife is the perpetrator of a suicide bombing.