Annaud to direct 'Wolf Totem' in China

Publishers of award-winning book to co-produce

BEIJING -- Frenchman Jean-Jacques Annaud will direct "Wolf Totem," based on the best-selling Chinese novel of the same name, in China with backing from the Beijing Forbidden City Movie Co.

Annaud -- who is notorious in China's state-run film establishment for directing Brad Pitt in 1997's "Seven Years in Tibet" -- plans to breed wolves and train them from birth to star in this tale about a Chinese student who goes to Inner Mongolia voluntarily during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s and captures a wolf cub to raise.

The film, based on Jiang Rong's prize-winning 2007 novel, will also use computer-generated images and could take five years to finish, according to a statement from Penguin Books China.

"This is the first time a Chinese-invested film has been directed by a foreign national, telling a Chinese story from a Western perspective for the global audience," the Penguin statement said.

As China's domestic boxoffice booms, Annaud is one among many Western directors eyeing work in the growing, if restrictive, movie marketplace.
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