Bille August, whose Goodbye Bafana made its world premiere in competition here, is in pre-production for his next film Burden Of Desire, which will shoot in January 2008 based on Robert MacNeil's novel of the same name.

The film will be a production of Capri Films in Toronto and London-based Future Films. Burden Of Desire is set in 1917 Halifax, in a small town where most of the men are off fighting in WWI but a priest and a doctor have a moral dilemma when they both develop feelings for a woman and then discover a diary of her secret sexual fantasies.

Despite its Canadian setting, the project will shoot in Sweden. 'It had been set up in Canada before [in 2004 with Telefilm Canada] at a higher budget of $16m-$18m, which was too expensive' said Future's Kwesi Dickson, who also was a producer on Goodbye Bafana. 'Bille knows Sweden well and we know Europe well, so we can now do it in Sweden for $10m-$12m.'

The project is casting now. Dickson says 'It's a story about heroism and how a small town has been destroyed by war.'

Future, which has primarily been known as a UK-based film finance operation, has recently expanded into the US and also is concentrating more on production. Johnson and Albert Martinez Martin, one of the producers of Antonio Banderas' Summer Rain, are part of a group of eight in-house producers at Future. Martinez Martin said the company is developing strong relationships with talents so that directors come to them with potential projects early in development, not just for financing. 'We're establishing those links because directors know that we're not just finance experts, we also can be hands-on producers that embrace the director's creative choices,' he told Screen International.

'What we've never done before is to buy rights and develop in house,' he continued. 'That's what we're doing now.' One dream project for Martinez Martin would be an English-language feature about the Spanish Civil War. 'There have been many projects about the Spanish Civil War shot in Spanish and they always seem like propaganda for one side or the other,' he said. 'I think there are bigger political stories to be told there that have mainstream appeal and could be shot in English.' (Martinez Martin has also worked on Future's English-language Spanish co-production Manolete.)

Future currently has The Oxford Murders shooting, a co-production with Tornasol, Estudios Picasso and La Fabrique de Films, starring Elijah Wood and John Hurt and directed by Alex de la Iglesia. Another upcoming UK shoot is Simon Fellows' Malice In Sunderland, starring Mischa Barton and and a male lead to be cast within the month.

Also in the casting stage is Future's co-production with Spain's Arcadia and El Deseo on Jorge Torregrossa's Purple America, adapted from the Rick Moody novel. That will shoot in late spring in Connecticut.

Also on Future's development slate is Adrian Bailey's script Close Protection, an English romantic comedy with the UK's Early Day Films. That will be a 2008 shoot and no director is attached yet.