Courtney Hunt set for 'Northline'

Writer-director basing project on Willy Vlautin's novel

TORONTO -- "Frozen River" writer-director Courtney Hunt has set her next project: the drama "Northline" for Jeffrey Sharp's Sharp Independent at HarperCollins.

Hunt will write and direct the film, based on Willy Vlautin's novel. The project centers on a woman who flees Las Vegas and a troubled life with her boyfriend for a new start in Reno, Nev. She also begins to seek comfort via imaginary conversations with Paul Newman.

In an interview, Hunt said she and Vlautin sent a copy of the book to Newman; Hunt said she hasn't determined how literally to render that plot element.

Sharp, an indie producer who also is developing William Styron's "Lie Down in Darkness," will produce "Northline" via his News Corp. shingle.

Hunt, who won a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January for her working-class drama "Frozen River," said the film also will mine drama from the lives of the working poor.

"There are certainly ways to tell stories about upper-class people," she said. "But I think when you add a level of economic challenges, you see things you don't normally see."