EXCLUSIVE: The Leone Film Group S.P.A. has come aboard as a production partner on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, the drama that Steven Spielberg will direct for Amblin Partners with production to begin February in Italy. LFG will distribute the film in Italy, an extension of its deal with the former DreamWorks Studios, now Amblin Partners.

Spielberg will direct a script by Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright with whom the director previously teamed on Munich and Lincoln. The film, an adaptation of the David Kertzer book, re-teams many of the elements from Spielberg’s last film, Bridge of Spies. Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar for that film, stars with Oscar Isaac, and the Bridge of Spies producing team of Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger is back together. The film will be released in fourth quarter, 2017.

Published in 1997, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara recounts the story of a young Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy in 1858. After being secretly baptized, the youth is forcibly taken from his family to be raised as a Christian. His parents’ struggle to free their son becomes part of a larger political battle that pits the Papacy against forces of democracy and Italian unification.

Said Spielberg: “I am so pleased that Andrea and Raffaella Leone are joining with us to bring this powerful story to the screen,” said Steven Spielberg.

Said Andrea and Raffaella Leone: “We are truly honored and proud to announce the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg who has decided to tell this moving Italian story and we thank him for opening the doors for us to his cinematic world.”