Jonathan Demme to Turn Dave Eggers Katrina Book Into Cartoon
Dave Eggers has been on top of the film world lately. His first original script (Away We Go), which he wrote with his wife Vendela Vida, was filmed and directed by none other than Academy Award Winning director Sam Mendes. Last month, his adaptation of the popular children's story Where the Wild Things Are received considerable praise for its unconventional nature. Now his latest piece of nonfiction Zeitoun, an account of one man's extraordinary experience during and following Hurricane Katrina, has been picked up for adaptation.
This news was reported late last month but seems to have been overlooked by many news sites. According to the NY Times, Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs and more recently Rachel Getting Married) has purchased the rights to Eggers' book and plans to adapt it into a cartoon. It seems that Demme was inspired by the book's cover art (drawn by McSweeney's regular Rachell Sumpter). “I was staring at the book,” Demme told the Times, “and there’s this wonderful line drawing on the cover, the character of Zeitoun in his canoe, paddling through a submerged neighborhood. And I suddenly imagined, What if we could do an animated film and visualize the experiences of the Zeitoun family and all of New Orleans?”
The book follows Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a painting contractor, Muslim, and Syrian immigrant, as he decides to let his wife and kids escape New Orleans, leaving him to watch over the family's house and various properties and job sites. When Katrina hits and the city is left floating in several feet of water, Zeitoun decides to explore and help his neighbors using a small canoe he purchased before the storm. He is then met by the worst kind of American paranoia and xenophobia.
This is exactly the kind of story that needs to be told right now. With the recent attacks on Fort Hood and hatred of Muslim culture rising again, the States needs a movie that will show us that that vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, not God-crazy whack jobs, not looking to destroy the foundations of Christianity. In fact, most are modest people with strong moral centers like Zeitoun. If you haven't checked out the book, I highly recommend it. If you'd rather wait for the movie, I can get behind that too, as I'm sure Demme will pull off something creative and thoughtful.
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