Martha Fiennes (whose newfilm Chromophobia closes theCannes Festival later in the week) is plotting a new film about MargarethaZella, also known as Mata Hari - the notorious exotic dancer who was shot bythe French in 1917 for allegedly spying for the Germans during the Second WorldWar.
Fiennes is setting up theproject with Belgian producer Tarsi Vanhuysse. The screenplay is completed andthe British writer-director is currently considering casting options.
There have been severalother big-screen versions of the story of Mata Hari, including CurtisHarrington's 1985 feature starring Sylvia Kristel of Emmanuelle fame, but Fiennes argues that most have been wildlyinaccurate.
She has researched theproject extensively, consulting the papers of Zella's court case, which haveonly recently been released. "There is so much material about her that has beenspeculative. She has been appallingly misunderstood," Fiennes says of MataHari.
"She was cajoled, bullied, utterly manipulated. She was awonderful, highly sexed, brilliant seducer of men. That was a gift'she has beenhistorically pilloried and misunderstood. It is a riveting story of power andpolitics and sexuality."
Along with Mata Hari,Fiennes has another project in advanced development. Blown is a contemporary, London-set political thriller, aUK Film Council project.