Gainsbourg sits in 'The Tree'

Cannes best actress winner joins Australian-French co-pro

SYDNEY -- Cannes best actress winner, Charlotte Gainsbourg will star in a new Australian-French co-production "The Tree," producers announced Tuesday.

French writer-director Julie Bertucelli has adapted the screenplay, from the book "Our Father Who Art In The Tree," by Australian author Judy Pascoe. It tells the story of eight-year-old girl who, after the death of her father, shares a secret belief with her grieving mother (Gainsbourg) that his spirit lives amongst the high branches of their fig tree.

To be made entirely in English, "Tree" begins filming on Queensland this week.

Starring alongside Gainsbourg, who won her Cannes palm for her role in Lars von Trier's controversial, "Antichrist," are Australians Marton Csokas, Aden Young, Penne Hackforth-Jones, Gillian Jones, Arthur Dignam and Tom Russell and newcomer Morgana Davies as Simone.

Sue Taylor from Australian production house Taylor Media and Yael Fogiel of France's Les Films du Poisson are producers. They developed the project together over the four years since Taylor optioned the book. Rosemary Blight of Goalpost Pictures Australia is one of the executive producers.

The film has received funding from Australian agencies Screen Australia and the Pacific Film and Television Commission as well as French broadcasters Canal Plus and Arte. Memento has come on board as the international sales agent, while Kojo Pictures is the distributor in Australia and Le Pacte in France.

"For the role of Dawn, Simone's mother, I needed someone who could capture life's emotions in all its sadness, humour, beauty and strength. I'm thrilled [Gainsbourg] has agreed to take on this most demanding of roles," Bertuccelli said.