Spanish director discusses his upcoming $13.5m period drama, from the writer of The Impossible and The Orphanage, at San Sebastian.

Fernando González Molina, the director of Three Steps Above Heaven and I Want To, is to next make a $13.5m love story set in 1950s Africa.

The Spanish film-maker unveiled details about Palm Trees in the Snow (Palmeras en la nieve) at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

It has been scripted by Sergio G. Sánchez, who penned blockbuster tsunami film The Impossible and ghost story The Orphanage. The script is based on the eponymous bestseller by Luz Gabas.

The cast will be led by Mario Casas, who starred in Molina’s previous two films as well as Álex de la Iglesia’s Toronto title Witching and Bitching, which is released in Spain this weekend.

It will be produced by Mercedes Gamero for Antena 3 and will begin shooting next June in Huesca, Costa Rica and the Canary Islands. The release date is scheduled for Christmas 2014. 

Speaking at San Sebastian, Molina said: “After I Want You, I told Mercedes  that I didn’t want to do an adaptation of a novel and work with Mario Casas.

“But then she proposed this great novel and, since the main character is the same age as Mario, I couldn’t resist.

Speaking about adapting the 700-page novel, Sánchez said: “I really was scared when I saw the book because it’s such a long story with so many characters.

“For me it’s a change of genre and I think that the combination of a love story, mystery and historical drama will enchant the audience”. 

Casas said he was “eager” to work with Molina again with him and compared the film to The English Patient and Legends of the Fall - “a type of film that is not usually made in Spain”. 

The film is set on the island of Fernando Poo (now Bioko) an island off the west coast of Africa that was a Spanish colony from 1778 and gained independence in 1968.

The story flips between the latter years of Spanish rule and present day. It begins when a woman discovers a missing later and travels to Bioko to discover where her father and uncle spent their youth.

The film will flashback to the 1950s to reveal the journey of characters Kilian and his brother Jacobo as they travel from the snowy Pyrenees to an exotic land where they will learn the meaning of friendship, passion, love and hate.