Screenwriter Christopher Hampton to Direct Drama 'Dalila'

Christopher Hampton Getty H 2016
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The film, based on an adaptation of a novel due to be published next year, will be Hampton's fourth as director.

Oscar winning British screenwriter, playwright and director Christopher Hampton is set to direct a feature based on his own adaptation of a novel due to be published by Jonathan Cape and Vintage next year.

Hampton, who won an Academy Award for his script of Stephen Frear's Dangerous Liaisons in 1989, has just finished writing Dalila — the story of a Kenyan woman fleeing a murderous uncle who flies to the U.K., where she applies for asylum.

Based on the novel of the same name by former aid agency worker Jason Donald, Hampton says he decided to write the script after producer Andrew Braunsberg brought him the unpublished manuscript.

"I read it and was very moved by it — it is very much about the procedure of what happens when someone asks for asylum — how they are taken to a Home Office centre in Croydon [a south London district], given £35 ($46) a week to live on, not allowed to work, wait for their hearing and then find that 80 percent of them are sent back," Hampton told The Hollywood Reporter.

The script, which he finished "a week ago" before leaving his west London home to head the international jury at the Odessa film festival in Ukraine, contains "no villains" he says, but aims to show the faults in the system.

"The central character is not from an obvious conflict zone, like Libya or Syria; she is someone with a very personal problem — her uncle is a gangster who has murdered her parents and now she is literally running for her life," Hampton said.

"I absolutely did not want to condemn anyone — it is the system that is wrong, not the particular individuals who operate it," he added.

He now plans to begin the process of raising money in the U.K., U.S. and Europe for the film with locations in Glasgow and Kenya, he said, adding that at a budget of around £5 million the film was "smaller" than others for which he is known.