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Cristiano Bortone to Direct Yan Geling’s ‘The Secret Talker’ (EXCLUSIVE)

China’s foremost screenwriter, Yan Geling, has teamed with Italian director and producer Cristiano Bortone to adapt Yan’s novella “The Secret Talker.”

Set during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the film is a romantic thriller centering on a Chinese woman, married to an American college professor, who thought she had found freedom and peace of mind until she suddenly starts receiving emails from a mysterious stalker. The obsessive relationship begins to reveal dark secrets of her past life in China.

“The Secret Talker” is expected to go into production in 2019 with a major Chinese actress as female lead and an American star as male lead.

Yan, who is both an author and screenwriter, was recently responsible for the novel “Youth,” a bittersweet, nostalgic tale of a military entertainment troupe. The book sold close to 1 million copies, and director Feng Xiaogang’s film adaptation was the biggest hit of the Christmas period, earning more than $200 million at the box office.

She previously wrote screenplays for the Chinese version of “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Forever Enthralled,” a biopic of Peking opera star Mei Lanfang, directed by Chen Kaige. Yan’s novels have included “Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl,” directed as a film by Joan Chen; “Siao Yu,” directed by Sylvia Chang and co-written by Ang Lee; and Christian Bale-starring “The Flowers of War” and “Coming Home,” both of which were directed by Zhang Yimou.

Bortone recently directed “Caffe,” the first film to make use of the Italy-China bilateral co-production treaty. Both Bortone and Yan are based in Berlin.

“For many years I tried to find the right way to represent in a movie the passion and fears hidden in the hearts of my two protagonists. I was touched by [Bortone’s] sensitivity and came to think that this would be the right angle to tell this story,” said Yan.

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