Mira Nair‘s The Reluctant Fundamentalist will open the 69th edition of the Venice International Film Festival in the movie’s world premiere. Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Martin Donovan, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi star in the out-of-competition adaptation of the bestselling novel about a young Pakistani working on Wall Street when 9/11 shatters his bright future and plunges him into doubts about all he thought he know. Movie was adapted by William Wheeler from the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid. With a score featuring new music by Peter Gabriel, the movie shot in Lahore, Delhi, Istanbul, New York and Atlanta. Festival director Alberto Barbera said that Nair, who won Venice’s Golden Lion in 2001 for Monsoon Wedding, “has made an exemplary film adaptation of a novel that deals with the topical issue of fundamentalisms of any kind or nature.” Nair collaborator Lydia Dean Pilcher produced the Mirabai Films and Cine Mosaic production with backing by the Qatar-based Doha Film Institute. It will be Nair’s fifth movie at Venice but her first to open the fest. K5 International is handling international rights with Hal Sadoff for DFI and Bart Walker of Cinetic handling North American rights.
Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications has brought the Doha Film Institute aboard as a co-producer of Black Gold, the Jean-Jacques Annaud-directed feature that began production in Tunisia on October 18. DFI, making its first foray into a major international feature production, will provide a mix of equity, services and locations. Even though the $55 million picture is directed by a French helmer, Black Gold is shaping up to be groundbreaking for a film that is back by Arabs with subject matter about them. An adaptation of the Hans Reusch novel The Great Thirst, Black Gold stars Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede. The drama is about the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930s, just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The film is being earmarked for Christmas, 2011 release, and Warner Bros has signed on to distribute in France, UK, Latin America and the Middle East, while Universal Pictures International will release it in Germany and Spain and Quinta’s Eagle Pictures has Italy.