Oscar-nominated Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets OfBelleville) is to direct an animatedversion of a screenplay by legendary French comedian Jacques Tati.

Called The Illusionist,it will be produced in Edinburgh - where Chomet recently set up shop -by Mark Cousinsof 4Ways Films. Sally Chomet will co-produce through Studio Django.

Other partners include Les Films De Mon Onle and PhilippeCarcassonne, who will exec-produce through his company Cine B. Pathe is alsolikely to board the project.

The Illusionist,written by Tati in the early 1950s, tells the story of a self-pitying conjurorfallen on hard times who wins the heart of a young village girl. She has neverseen electricity and believes implicitly in his tricks. Rather than disillusionher, he risks financial ruin by buying her magical gifts.

As Tati's biographer David Bellos puts it, "theconjuror slides down the ladder of international engagements to end up amusingRuritanian peasants in the back of beyond." Rather than Ruritania, Chometreportedly plans to set his film on a remote Hebridean island.

The Illusionist isone of a number of Chomet projects on the boil. Also in development is Barbacoa, a bloody animated drama about escaped zoo animalsset during the 1871 Paris Commune. Andrew Macdonald of DNA Films is toexec-produce Barbacoa, which isthus in line to have access to international distribution through DNA'spartnership with Fox.