Project: Returning To Haifa
Scr: Mohsen Melliti, based on a novel by Ghassan Kanafani
Estimated budget: $4.8m (Eu3.5m)

Tunisian-born writer and director Mohsen Melliti has lived in Italy since 1991. He has made a career as a writer of books, poetry and journalism for leading Italian and international dailies, and also works with research institutes on human rights in Arab countries.

His first film, Io, L'Altro, produced by and starring Italian actor Raoul Bova, struck the core of contemporary Arab themes.

The film told the story of two fisherman in Sicily who go into business together but whose lives and friendship are changed forever in the aftermath of the US terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Melliti's second project, Returning To Haifa, is based on the book of the same name by Ghassan Kanafani and is being produced by Rome-based Trees Pictures.

It tells the story of a Palestinian couple who are forced to leave their Haifa home in 1948 following the creation of the Israeli state.

They lose track of their five-month-old son and search for 20 years until they discover he was adopted by the Israeli couple that took their home, and is subsequently a practising Jew and Israeli soldier.

'The challenge of the film is to show that the existential problems of two peoples can only be solved through each other, each through their lost land,' says Melliti. 'The liberation of one cannot be at the expense of the other.'