Michael Apted Adapting Novel Eight Months On Ghazzah Street
For an Western woman who is free to go to school, socialize as she likes, wear what she wants, and drive wherever she chooses, the life of women in more restrictive cultures might seem incomprehensible. It certainly did for Frances Shore, the British woman at the center of Hilary Mantel's novel Eight Months on Ghazzah Street.
In the book, Shore moves with her husband to Saudi Arabia, and finds the culture clash of her Western values in an Islamic culture jarring, if not frightening. Anxious from all the warnings and rumors she's heard before her arrival, she feels deeply lonely in her new home, an apartment with no telephone and strange sounds coming from a neighboringóbut supposedly empty apartment. When she discovers an Arab woman there, a friendship blooms that proves life changing and eye-opening for both.
Though published in 1988, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street has a message about discovering common ground that is still woefully relevant. It's easy to see why English director Michael Apted is interested in adapting the novel into a contemporary-set drama. Screen Daily reports the helmer of Coal Miner's Daughter and Gorillas In the Mist has hired Black Rain screenwriter Craig Bolotin to pen the script. Currently scouting locations in Jordan, where he might film his unnamed adaptation, Apted took the time to comment on his in-the-works drama, which will shift the nationality of Shore from British to American, saying:
"Iíve made lots of films about women and their changing role in society, so Iím interested in looking at this subject in the Middle East. I think thatís the interesting story here, not spies or terrorists. [The project] isnít critical of the Middle East; if anything itís slightly anti-American.Ē
While the premise seems ripe for a modern adaptation, Apted might be making things more difficult for himself. With a statement as blunt and potentially antagonizing as this, it'll be interesting to see if he can score American financing from the film.
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