Shoot begins on adaptation of bestselling love story; Danish star Connie Neilsen also joins cast.

Homeland star Mandy Patinkin and Danish actress Connie Neilsen (Nymphomanic, ‘The Following’) have been confirmed for the cast of epic love story Ali & Nino.

The announcement came as director Asif Kapadia (The Warrior, Senna) today began principal photography on the film, an adaptation of Kurban Said’s best-selling novel.

Adam Bakri (Omar) and María Valverde (Exodus: Gods and Kings) star as the titular star crossed lovers. Patinkin and Nielson play Nino’s parents. 

Other confirmed cast include Riccardo Scamarcio, Homayoun Ershadi, Fakhraddin Manafov, Assaad Bouab, Numan Acar and Halit Ergenc.

The screenplay is by Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement), producer is Kris Thykier (Trash, Woman in Gold) and executive producer is Leyla Aliyeva.  

IM Global will handle international sales.

Since its initial publication in 1937, Ali & Nino has been translated into 33 languages worldwide with nearly 100 reprints.

The story centres on the romance between Muslim boy Ali and Christian girl Nino in Baku, the cosmopolitan capital of Azerbaijan, before the First World War.

Despite their cultural differences, they are determined to marry. But when war breaks out and Baku’s oil becomes the focus of Russia’s vie for power, Ali and Nino find themselves caught up in Azerbaijan’s fight for independence.

Kapadia said: “It’s been a long journey but Ali and Nino is finally coming together and I’m excited to start shooting today.

“We have a brilliant screenplay, an amazing team of international actors, incredible epic locations and a fantastic crew. It’s going to be an amazing adventure for everyone involved.”

Revealing location of the shoot, exec producer Aliyeva said: “Filming of this novel will take place on the streets of Baku today, in the Old City, at our Opera House, in Gobustan, and in the mountains of Khiniliq - places where the book was originally dreamed up and where its scenes were first set.”