A project we first profiled in August 2011 is now, finally pushing ahead.
Recapping… Forest Whitaker is teaming up with Oscar-nominated Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb to star in one of a trilogy of English-language films that will explore the complex relationship between the west and the Arab world.
"The questions I'm asking in my movies here in America are 'Where are we?' and 'Where are we going?' and 'Why do we need to have hope in this relationship?'" the director of Hors la Loi (Outside the Law), his most recent work, and London River before that (both films we've covered on S&A) said.
Whitaker will play a Muslim released from prison into a small town in the Southwest USA, that's seething with anti-Muslim sentiment.
It was initially titled Bill's Law and is based on a 1973 French psychological drama titled Deux Hommes Dans La Ville (Two Men In Town) by Jose Giovanni. That film centerd on an ex-safe cracker, just out of prison, who finds honest work and a new love, and wants to go on the straight and narrow; but attempts by his ex-gang to lure him back into his former life, as well as the the determination of a vengeful cop who stalks him, nearly push him over the edge.
Director Bouchareb will transfer the action and drama from 1970s France to present-day USA – specifically a small town in the Southwest, near the Mexican border, and, as already noted, the film will touch on American anti-Arab paranoia.
The project was budgeted at $20 million with pre-production scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012, with principal photography scheduled for last fall. Obviously those plans changed, because the film has yet to be shot.
Skip ahead to this morning, catching up on emails, when I saw a press release from The New Mexico Film Office, announcing that the production of a new film titled Enemy Way, starring Forest Whitaker, will begin filming in April around Albuquerque and Deming.
Reading further, I realized that it's the same project as above, but obviously the title's been changed to Enemy Way.
Rachid Bouchareb is still directing, with Jean Brehat (who produced Bourchareb's Outside the Law) producing, along with Allen Bain (Just Like a Woman).
The release states that the film will tell the story of an ex-convict who gets a second chance, but the local law wants to send him back to prison.
It's said that the production will employ at least seventy New Mexico crewmembers and three hundred principal and background talent.
Given what I know of the work and abilities of both gentlemen, I'd say this should be something to watch for likely in 2014.
Whitaker's certainly been busy, from starring in Lee Daniels' The Butler, to Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity, producing Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale, and more.