Zeresenay Berhane Mehari is directing from a script by Laura Phillips, adapted from Camilla Gibb’s bestselling novel that explores an immigrant’s life from the unique perspective of being orphaned in Africa as a child, escaping to England as a refugee, embracing the immigrant community in London, and attempting to reunite people with their scattered families — while dealing with a passionate lost love affair with a doctor.
Other cast members include Wunmi Mosaku and Kunal Nayyar (“The Big Bang Theory”). The project was unveiled at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival with Saoirse Ronan initially attached.
Berhane Mehari’s first feature film, “Difret,” was executive produced by Angelina Jolie and won the audience awards at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and in the panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival.
“Sweetness in the Belly” was developed by Sienna Films, and is produced by Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny of Sienna Films with Alan Moloney and Susan Mullen of Parallel Films. Mehret Mandefro and Adrian Sturges are executive producers, along with Laura Bickford and Fiona Druckenmiller.
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HanWay Films is handling worldwide sales and distribution, and is selling “Sweetness in the Belly” at the American Film Market. Entertainment One will distribute the movie in Canada. The movie is produced with the support of Telefilm Canada, Screen Ireland, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and Eurimages.
HanWay Films’ Gabrielle Stewart said, “We have always loved this moving fish-out-water story which connects us to a young refugee’s experience in London when escaping her war-torn home. The spin of this refugee originally being British and Caucasian, yet raised Muslim in Africa, makes this perspective incredibly fresh and timely. We are all thrilled to have caught Dakota Fanning at a really exciting point in her career.”
Fanning appeared in “Ocean’s 8” and in TNT’s “The Alienist.” She will portray Charles Manson follower Squeaky Fromme in the Quentin Tarantino pic “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Fanning is represented by Echo Lake Entertainment, WME, and Hansen Jacobson. Mosaku is represented by Scott Marshall Partners, The Gersh Agency, Principal Entertainment LA, Innovative Artists, Lovett Management, and lawyer Jim Hornstein. The news was first reported by Screen International.