Andrew Lincoln to star in 'Republic of Desire'

'Love, Actually' co-star eyes role in Shanghai rom-com

BEIJING -- British TV actor and "Love, Actually" co-star Andrew Lincoln will play a lead role in the film version of the novel "People's Republic of Desire," set to start shooting in Shanghai in September and be finished by Valentine's Day, the film's producer said Tuesday.

Charlie Moretti said romantic comedy about contemporary women's liberation in China's glitzy financial hub, is budgeted at 18 million yuan ($2.6 million).  The film already is 60% privately financed and would likely get another third of its budget from product placement of luxury brands and women's' cosmetics and accessories, Moretti said.

At the end of the week, he will be pitching what he called the Chinese hybrid of "Love, Actually" and American TV series "Sex and the City" at the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival.

Moretti was in the capital to meet with various actresses for the four lead female roles and to meet with director, Beijing-based Canadian TV and documentary maker Alexei Berteig.

Beijing-born Annie Wang--author of the 2006 English-language novel that inspired the film--will associate produce. The script is co-written by Jenny Hammond and Lucy Brydon, both Shanghai residents working in film, theater and journalism.

"Republic" will be the first feature for Bright Shadow Films, the Shanghai-based film and television production house Moretti founded in 2004.  Its biggest production to date was "The World's Largest Studio," about the Hengdian World Studios near Shanghai. The 2008 documentary was distributed by the National Film Board of Canada.

BSF also regularly shoots "soft news" for France 24 television and Press TV of Iran.  "We have to self-censor to play in the China market," Moretti said, noting that the practice of avoiding politically sensitive topics in TV helps guide his understanding of what will pass muster with the Film Bureau in Beijing.

BSF also recently became a film distributor, bringing French action film "Female Agent" to China in April, where it did better than expected thanks, in part, Moretti said, to a visit by star Sophie Moreau.

Next, BSF will submit the films "Push" and "Inner Ring," for censorship in hopes of a China distribution license, Moretti said.