EXCLUSIVE: Eve’s Bayou helmer Kasi Lemmons has been set to adapt and direct On Beauty, based on the Booker Prize-nominated novel by Zadie Smith. The film will be developed as a coproduction between Carol Polakoff Productions, Ruby Films and Film4.

The book is an academic comedy of manners, focusing on the story of two families with different but increasingly intertwined lives, race and sexual politics. It’s been called a modern day Howards End, which was an inspiration for the author. Alison Owen and Paul Trijbits of Ruby Films are producing with Carol Polakoff.

Lemmons, who started as an actress (she played Clarice Starling’s classmate at the FBI Academy in The Silence of the Lambs) and has also directed Talk To Me with Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejoifor, and The Caveman’s Valentine with Samuel L. Jackson. She’s developing at Fox Searchlight an adapatation of Langston Hughes’s gospel song play adaptation Black Nativity.

On Beauty is part of a slate put together by New York-based Polakoff that includes Waiting For Bardot, based on the Andy Martin novel, with Will Frears directing a script he wrote with Andrew O’Hagan, and Freddie Highmore in talks to star; The Great Cyberheist, based on a James Verini article in The New York Times which Polakoff is producing with Quadrant Pictures’ Doug Davison; the Eran Riklis-directed Secret Sky and an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning book American Prometheus. Polakoff, who came up the ranks as a journalist, is financing the development of her projects through a consortium of US and European-based private investors.

Lemmons and Polakoff are repped by Gersh.