EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winning director and festival favorite Danis Tanovic is set to helm Ports Of Call, based on the bestselling novel by Lebanese-French writer and Académie Française member, Amin Maalouf. The film will be produced by Ron Senkowski (Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Decoding Annie Parker) and Samira Kawas through their Dubai/LA-based Symply Entertainment. Also producing is Paul-Gordon Chandler, a Cairo-based Episcopal priest who initially obtained the rights from Maalouf.

ports of callOriginally published in 1996, Ports Of Call is the story of two ill-fated lovers who meet in Paris during WW II. Ossyane, an Ottoman prince with a Muslim upbringing, and Clara, a Jewish freedom fighter from Vienna, are ultimately torn apart by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Tanovic, whose most recent film, Tigers, premiered in Toronto, won the 2002 Foreign Language Oscar for No Man’s Land, as well as the screenplay prize in Cannes. In 2013, he won the Jury Prize in Berlin for An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker, which was shortlisted for the Foreign Language Oscar last year. He had already read Ports Of Call and was turned on to the story because, he says, he’s “fed up with people killing in the name of difference… The whole bloody world is going 100 miles an hour toward a wall and nobody is doing anything about it.”

The book has sold over six million copies and has been translated in over 40 languages. The adaptation will be shot in Malta, France and Turkey and will be financed out of Lebanon by FFA Private Bank as well as by Symply Entertainment, which has a mandate to produce internationally acclaimed novels with multi-cultural components. Ports Of Call will be shot mainly in French, with some Arabic, Hebrew, and English. Oscar winner Gabriel Yared is composing the score.