EXCLUSIVE: UK director Michael Apted is set to direct an adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, which he plans to shoot in the Middle East.

Apted has been scouting locations in Jordan for the as-yet-untitled project, about the friendship between an Arab woman and an American woman who moves to the region.

The project, which will update Mantel’s 1980s-set novel to the present day, is being scripted by Craig Bolotin, whose credits as a writer include Ridley Scott’s Black Rain.

“I’ve made lots of films about women and their changing role in society, so I’m interested in looking at this subject in the Middle East,” said Apted. “I think that’s the interesting story here, not spies or terrorists. [The project] isn’t critical of the Middle East; if anything it’s slightly anti-American.”

Apted received a Lifetime Achievement Award at DIFF’s opening ceremony on Sunday night and is also president of the Muhr Arab documentary jury. He will also talk about his work, including Thunderheart and documentary Incident At Oglala, at a DIFF Forum panel on Sunday.