Revolutionary thinking

Peck has sights set on Marx biopic

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 1830-48, 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 next year.

The screenplay is co-written by Peck and Pascal Bonitzer, who 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.