Peck sets sights on Karl Marx biopic


PARIS -- Haitian auteur Raoul Peck will direct "Karl Marx," tracing the young adventures of the German philosopher and revolutionary, producer Jacques Bidou said Thursday.

The picture will cover the period 1830-1848, including Marx's time in Paris before being expelled to Brussels and culminating with the publication of the Communist Manifesto. "Marx was considered a young genius at the time, but it was also a period marked by the birth of a great movement in thinking," Bidou said.

The story also will encompass Marx's love for his aristocratic wife Jenny von Westphalen, and his friendship with Friedrich Engels, with whom he co-authored the Manifesto.

No cast is yet attached, but Bidou said the principal characters will necessarily be young. "Raoul very definitely wants to make this a film for a wide public," he said.

The English-language movie will be produced by Bidou's JBA Prods. and, with a budget of about $20 million, will be the Paris-based production house's most ambitious project to date. The French cinema division of Franco-German cultural channel Arte also is involved, having nurtured the project from the start.

Dreamachine, the recently formed tie-up between Hanway and Celluloid Dreams, is in advanced negotiations to take on international sales for the project and possibly co-producer duties, Bidou said.

The movie is penciled in to begin shooting in February in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, the latter for co-production reasons, for delivery at the end of that year.

The screenplay is co-written by Peck and Pascal Bonitzer, who previously collaborated on "Lumumba," the former's biography of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, also produced by JBA. A first draft of "Karl Marx" is due to be ready for the Festival de Cannes.