BernardoBertolucci is lining up a new drama inspired by thereal events surrounding the hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996.

Bertolucci's first film since 2003's The Dreamers is an adaptation of Ann Patchett'snovel, Bel Canto. It is set in an unnamed SouthAmerican country where an elaborate birthday party is being held for a Japaneseindustrialist in the hope of securing new foreign investment.

Aworld-renown opera singer is entertaining the guests, but just as herperformance ends, armed terrorists burst in. The rest of the story focuses onthe four months the terrorists spend with an eclectic group of internationalhostages.

Thefilm is produced by Bertolucci's long-time partnerJeremy Thomas, who is developing the project with Caroline Baron, producer of Capote. Bertolucciis currently writing the screenplay with Gilbert Adair, who also wrote The Dreamers.

Bel Canto is based on the takeover by the Tupac Amaru terrorist group of the Japanese embassy in Peru, during a dinner party inDecember 1996. The hostages were eventually freed in April 1997 and 13 guerillas killed.

"Inthat embassy, where 50 hostages were forced to live with 20 terrorists for fourmonths, people lost their sense of time," Bertoluccisaid in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Corriere dellaSera.

"Itall began with a party but then it was as if they were all cut off from theworld, you couldn't distinguish anymore between the terrorists and thehostages," he added.

"Duringthe hostage-taking, the only light relief was provided by music as there was asoprano among the guests who were taken hostage. She began to sing and in someway, managed to bring both sides together. That is the power of music."