The Match Factory will be handling international sales on Sherry Hormann's adaptation of Waris Dirie's bestselling autobiography Desert Flower.
The film is currently shooting in Berlin before being due to wrap in New York next week.
Structured as a $17.4m (Euros 11m) European co-production by the 'single purpose' company Desert Flower Filmproductions with Austria's DOR Film and France's Bac Films onboard together with several regional and national public funders, broadcasters, private investors and other co-producers, Desert Flower's action takes place in four countries on three continents.
The film is being produced by Peter Herrmann, one of the producers of Caroline Link's Oscar-winning Nowhere In Africa.
In Dirie's bestseller which appeared in 1998, the former supermodel recounted the story of coming from a life among Somali nomads to the world's leading fashion cat walks. Then, at the pinnacle of her career, she recalled in an interview the brutal practice of female circumcision which she underwent at the age of five. From this point on, Dirie decided to devote her life to campaigning against the archaic ritual as a Special Ambassador to the United Nations.
Three weeks were initially spent shooting in April in and around Djibouti which was formerly part of Somalia with Somali nomads appearing in front of the camera, while principal photography in Europe began at the end of May.
'The majority of the story is set in London and we developed a concept where the exteriors for London and New York are shot at original locations, but all of the interiors are done in studios - we had six sets built in an empty factory building in Cologne - at suitable locations in Germany,' Peter Herrmann explained to ScreenDaily.com. For example, during a 10-day shoot in Berlin, the House Of World Cultures (the former Kongresshalle) stood for the New York U.N. building and the ICC conference centre for a Heathrow terminal.
The role of the adult Waris Dirie was cast with the international top model and actress Liya Kebede who is supported by a host of British actors including Sally Hawkins, Juliet Stevenson, Craig Parkinson, Timothy Spall and Meera Syal.
'It was our desire not to have a film with a German look,' Herrmann noted, pointing out that Hormann is working again here with American DoP Ken Kelsh. 'The film's story doesn't have anything to do with Germany and we don't have any German actors, at least not in the main roles. On set, the languages spoken were American English, British English and German and it was interesting to see how differently people work. That was a very fruitful experience.'
Herrmann added that he expected that a promo reel of Desert Flower will be ready for The Match Factory to show in Toronto in September.Desert Flower will be released theatrically next year in Germany by Majestic Filmverleih and in France by Bac Films.