Experimental filmmaker Nina Menkes is developing a new film examining the Israel-Palestinian conflict through the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur.

Nina Menkes is developing a new film examining the Israel-Palestinian conflict through a loose re-telling of the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur set against the backdrop of the Old City of Jerusalem in contemporary times.

Entitled simply Minotaur, the film revolves around a Christian Palestinian working with tourists in the Old City, who embodies both Theseus and the Minotaur, which manifests itself as a Hebrew-speaking beast that attacks visitors in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  He has a mother called Pasiphae and falls for the beautiful foreign waitress Ariadne.

“First and foremost it’s an emotional story about the process of confronting the self and not living in denial which I think is a big issue around here… but it’s also a political story about here the country we live in,” explained Menke.

Palestinian actor Ziad Bakri, recently seen in Shira Geffen’s Self Made, has signed to play the lead, opposite Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova (The Wolverine) as the waitress Ariadne.

The director, whose previous credits include Dissolution, Phantom Love and Massaker, presented the $800,000 project at the Israeli feature-focused Pitch Point event this week.

Israeli Palestinian producer Tony Copti of Jaffa-based Fresco Films, who worked on Dissolution, is producing Minotaur.

“I’d like to emphasise the combination of a Palestinian producer and Israeli director,” said Menke, who is also American. “It was extremely important for me that structure of the production reflected the politics in the film.”

“We’re still in the financing stages. We have applications out to the Jerusalem Film Fund, as the film will be shot in the city, and the Israel Film Fund,” said Copti.

To date, Menke has secured a $50,000 development grant from the New York-based fund Creative Capital.

Fresco, which line produced Ziad Doueiri’s The Attack and Rani Massalha’s Girrafada, is currently in post-production on Israeli director Yaniv Berman’s Land of the Little People about a bunch of wayward teenagers living on an army compound.

Other upcoming productions include Nazareth-based director Maha Assal’s Personal Affairs, intermingling several contemporary stories around one central character.