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Cannes: Ate de Jong to Direct True Story Drama ‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Veteran Dutch director Ate de Jong is set to shoot “My Best Friend Anne Frank,” the true story of the teenage diarist’s best friend, who also was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp but survived and is still alive today.

The story, based on the memoirs of Frank’s friend Hannah Goslar, is told from her perspective. The best friends, shy Hannah and precocious Anne, are separated in 1942, but meet again in 1945 in the concentration camp, where Hannah risks her life to try to save Anne.

The film, budgeted at $3.4 million, is set to start shooting late this year, continuing into early next year, with a release in 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

De Jong’s credits as a producer or director include “Left Luggage,” “Enigma,” “All Men Are Mortal,” “Drop Dead Fred” and “Love Is Thicker Than Water.” The script is by Marian Batavier.

The film is produced by Hans de Weers, who won an Oscar with “Antonia’s Line,” for FATT Prods. Dutch Film Works will co-finance and distribute across Benelux, and is selling the film, which is supported by the Dutch Film Fund and RTL, in Cannes.

De Weers said: “The film is first and foremost a story about two best friends, adolescents actually, who just want to have fun, want to discover the world and themselves. But the war forces them to become adults overnight.”

Speaking about the casting process for the leads, De Jong said: “They have to look like Hannah and Anne of course, but above all they have to be sparkling, vibrant and filled with zest for life. During the story their loyalty, perseverance, and most of all their friendship is unimaginably put to the test.”

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