Lajos Koltai fills 'Dance' card

Period drama centers on freewheeling American woman

NEW YORK -- Lajos Koltai has come on board to helm "Spider Dance," a period drama set in 19th century Australia.

The director fills a spot that had previously been mentioned for "Duchess" director Saul Dibb, who had been presented as attached to the project as it was shopped around town.

"Spider Dance" is a period story about an American woman's colorful exploits Down Under.

Peter Sumner wrote the screenplay for the indie drama, which Robert Roworth and U.K.-based Leo Media Group are producing. Producers are out to cast, with veteran British actor John Rhys-Davies already on board.

The project centers on a young American who arrives in a repressed part of Sydney with an extensive entourage of actors and other celebrities in tow and proceeds to shock the locals with her uninhibited ways. The film also traces the arc of the woman's addictions and romantic pursuits.

Koltai, repped by Gersh and Principal Entertainment, is best known for helming "Evening," Focus Features' ensemble female drama starring Meryl Streep and Claire Danes. He also directed the Holocaust adaptation "Fateless," a festival and critical favorite when it came out in 2005.

"Dance" is set to shoot early next year in locations including Australia and Germany.