Spanish producer Lolafilms has signed two-time Palme d'Or winner Bille August to direct The Maid Of Buttermere, a long-gestating period love tale set in England's Lake District.

No cast has yet been confirmed for the film, which was written by Raymond Khoury as an adaptation of a novel by intellectual, TV presenter and author Melvyn Bragg. A start date is also uncertain given the film's Lakeland setting, which is close to one of the centres of foot and mouth disease in the UK. Production is now expected to begin by the end of the year.

The Maid Of Buttermere (working title) tells the story of a handsome rogue who sets out to seduce a wealthy debutante but winds up falling in love with the village's local beauty.

Production of the $10m picture is being handled out of Lolafilms' UK office, which handles development and sales on all Lolafilms' English-language product.

The picture was previously in development at MGM/UA in association with Tribeca Films and OAK Partnership. Directors Carlos Saura and Fernando Trueba, and actors Hugh Grant and Colin Firth were all previously linked at different stages.

August, who has been working on the film for several months, won the top prize at Cannes with Pelle The Conqueror in 1987 and Best Intentions in 1992. His most recent work is A Song For Martin, a Norwegian-Swedish co-production, which followed a period working on bigger budget English language productions that included Les Miserables, Smilla's Sense Of Snow and The House Of The Spirits.

Currently awaiting release from Lolafilms UK's first-year slate are John Malkovich's The Dancer Upstairs, Chris Monger's That Girl From Rio, Manuel Gomez Pereira's Off Key and Susan Seidelman's Gaudi Afternoon.

Also in development on Lola's growing English-language slate is Alex de la Iglesia's ambitious Fu Manchu, tipped to star Antonio Banderas, which also looks likely to crank up before year-end, although a SAG strike could complicate matters.

Lola Spanish-language title Torrente 2: Mission In Marbella (Torrente 2: Mision En Marbella) last weekend became the highest grossing Spanish film ever, surpassing previous record-holder the original Torrente, The Dumb Arm Of The Law (Torrente, El Brazo Tonto De La Ley).