Italian director Edoardo Winspeare, whose last film The Miracle screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival, is now preparing to direct a WW2 picture about an Italian Lawrence of Arabia.

Winspeare is currently writing the film, which will focus on the life of Amedeo Guillet, an Italian cavalry officer who went to Africa during WW2, became a leader of the indigenous people and was awarded a special military honour by the British.

The as yet-untitled picture will shoot in 2004 in Italian or English and will be produced by Rome production company Cattleya.

It marks a departure from Winspeare's three previous pictures - Pizzicata, Sangue Vivo and The Miracle - all of which were set in the director's native Puglia, in the south of Italy and were produced by Maurizio Tini's Sidecar Films and TV.

Cattleya is also producing Best Of Youth director Marco Tullio Giordana's next film, Romanzo Criminale. The movie, described as an 'Italian Goodfellas' is based on a novel by Giancarlo De Cataldo and the script is currently being written by Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia. Shooting is scheduled for late spring 2004.

Cattleya is also the production company behind the next film by Gianni Amelio, who is currently in post-production on The Keys To The The House. Entitled La Dimissione, the film will tell the story of the dismantling of an iron plant in Naples and will shoot in 2004.

Other projects on Cattleya's slate include Francesca Archibugi's new Euros 7m-8m English-language project Lezioni di Volo and La Vita Nuova (literally The New Life), the next film by actor-director Michele Placido (A Voyage Called Love). A co-production with Spain's Alquimia, La Vita Nuova, a romantic metaphysical drama about love, will star hot Italian actor Stefano Accorsi.