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Jonathan Demme's Animated 'Zeitoun' Lines Up Financing, Now Aiming To Hit Theaters In 2014

by Kevin Jagernauth
February 13, 2012 2:42 PM
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Jonathan Demme Zeitoun

One project that has always been at simmering on Jonathan Demme's always busy plate of projects has been an adaptation of Dave Eggers' post-Hurricane Katrina book "Zeitoun." First announced nearly three years ago, the project hasn't had much movement since and Demme has been busy knocking out a number of documentaries including two centering on Neil Young ("Neil Young Trunk Show" and "Neil Young Journeys") in addition to his latest, "I'm Carolyn Parker." But it seems like "Zeitoun" is finally going to be moving forward, as financing has kicked things into motion.

Screen Daily report French shingle MK2 has come on board to produce the $15 million dollar movie. The based-on-a-true-story tale centers on Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor who stays behind after Hurricane Katrina to protect his business and assist in rescue efforts, only to become wrongly suspected of being a terrorist. It sounds like powerful material, but for Demme, it was something much more simple that drew him to the tale. 

"I was staring at the book,” Demme told the New York Times in 2009, “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?”

It would certainly be a fascinating approach to a subject that has already seen a handful of documentaries, movies and TV series tackling life in the area. We're certainly glad to see it's moving forward, and we're intrigued to see what Demme will come up with in his first animated full length film. Production will get underway soon as the film is being prepped for a 2014 release. And no, it won't be in 3D.

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  • Adrian | August 8, 2012 10:47 AMReply

    A. Zeitoun is in jail for a second time, right this moment, for attempting to murder his exwife (again).

    There's lots of rumours going around about other.... nefarious dealings he is involved with... You would think people would do a bit of research into monsters, before they turn them into martyrs.

  • rb | February 17, 2012 11:18 PMReply

    I met jd in the early 1970's in Beverly Glen. The girl with him was tall and English. I remember him as interesting, just like his movies he made years later. I sure Zietoun will be no different. He will tell the story that makes us feel that we should have been in that canoe. The lens makes the movie, but the man tells the story.

  • Paul Harris | February 14, 2012 11:36 AMReply

    I do believe that "Zeitoun" will become the "To Kill A Mockingbird" for this generation. Every American who values his or her civil rights needs to read this.

    Paul Harris
    Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

  • redcup | February 13, 2012 4:46 PMReply

    Seems rather cheap for an animated movie, no?

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