EXCLUSIVE: Saoirse Ronan is attached to star in Sweetness in the Belly, based on the bestselling novel by Camilla Gibb.
The project, which Hanway Films is shopping to buyers in Berlin next month, will reunite Ronan with Irish producer Alan Moloney and his Parallel Films banner – the duo worked together on 2015’s Oscar-nominated Brooklyn.
Zeresenay “Zee” Berhane Mehari is set to direct the project. The Ethiopian helmer’s debut feature Difret was exec produced by Angelina Jolie and won the World Cinematic Dramatic Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and also won the Audience Award in Berlin’s Panorama section the same year.
Ronan will play Lilly Abdal, a woman caught between two places: one of her birth parents and the other, where she was adopted, raised and fell in love. Orphaned in Africa as a child, Lilly’s first experience of her parents’ homeland of England is as a refugee, escaping civil war. As lost in this cold new world as her fellow immigrants, Lilly becomes the heart of this disenfranchised community in London, attempting to reunite people with their scattered families. But as her friend Amina discovers, Lilly’s mission isn’t purely altruistic and a passionate lost love affair is revealed between Lilly and Aziz, an idealistic doctor.
The film will shoot in September and is produced by Parallel Films’ Moloney and Susan Mullen and Sienna Films’ Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny. Sienna Films optioned the novel and developed the screenplay. Mehret Mandefro (Little White Lies, Difret) and Adrian Sturges (The Enfield Haunting, The Disappearance of Alice Creed) are exec producers with Laura Phillips writing the screenplay.
“When we were developing the script Saoirse was our dream first choice for Lilly,” said Kawaja and Sereny. “It’s so wonderful to have her on board. We are thrilled to begin to realise the project, especially as the film is even more relevant now then it was when we started this journey.”
Moloney added: “It’s a great pleasure to be working with Saoirse again and we are really excited that she is on board this vibrant and emotionally powerful film.”
Hanway MD Gabrielle Stewart said: “Following the legacy of Brooklyn, we are thrilled to be working with Saoirse Ronan again and to continue our relationship with Alan Moloney and Susan Mullen from Parallel Films. We believe “Zee” will create a beautiful and visually endearing film that will resonate strongly in today’s complex world.”
Hanway is handling worldwide sales for the title.
Ronan is repped by CAA.