Paris-based Tu Vas Voir developing adaptation of Sacco’s graphic novel on 1956 Gaza massacre; company also confirms new Walter Salles film to start shooting at end of 2012.

Incendies director Denis Villeneuve is set to direct an adaptation of Joe Sacco’s graphic novel Footnotes in Gaza, Paris-based production company Tu Va Voir, which is developing the project, has announced.

“It took a long time for us to convince Joe Sacco that we were the right people to adapt the work,” says Tu Vas Voir producer Amiel Tenenbaum, who started bidding for adaptation rights shortly after the work’s publication at the end of 2009.

Footnotes in Gaza is based on Maltese-American cartoonist and journalist Sacco’s own research in the Gaza Strip into the shooting dead by Israeli soldiers of 111 Palestinians in the town of Rafah in 1956.

Sacco first achieved international fame with his 1996 book Palestine. Other works include Area Gorazde and The Fixer, both capturing the Bosnian War.

“Joe was always adamant that it was important for him to have confidence in the director… from the beginning we’d had Denis in mind,” continues Tenenbaum.

After talks with Villeneuve’s agent Claude Girard at the Cannes Film Festival, Tu Vas Voir set up a meeting between the director and Sacco in New York at the end of last year.

“Joe came out saying I think you’ve found the right person,” recounts Tenenbaum.

Tu Vas Voir plans to adapt the work as a feature-length animation, taking inspiration from Sacco’s original black and white illustrations.

Canadian Villeneuve, whose Lebanon-set Incendies is nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar, is also co-writing the script.

“We’re kicking off the creative development on our own and once we have a script we’ll start bringing on co-producers and looking for finance — by June, July there will be more news – we’ve already put out a lot of feelers,” says Tenenbaum.

Paris-based Tu Vas Voir – created by Gérard Lacroix and Edgard Tenembaum in 2002– specialises in French features and international co-productions.

The company, which produced Walter Salles’ 2004 Motorcycle Diaries, is also currently developing the Brazilian-born director’s next project — a road movie about two half brothers who meet for the first time at their estranged father’s funeral.

The long-announced project, provisionally entitled Terra, was put on hold when Salles signed up to direct On the Road. It is now set to shoot in Chile and Argentina at the end of 2012 with Gael Garcia Bernal and Ricardo Darin co-starring.

“Once Walter is off On the Road we expect the production to come together very quickly,” commented Tu Vas Voir co-chief Tenembaum.

Buenos Aires-based KS Films has signed up as a co-producer, Paris-based Mars Distribution has pre-bought French rights and Wild Bunch is handling international sales.  

Tu Vas Voir is also co-producing Argentine director Pablo Reyero’s Escafandra, about a family dealing with the father’s violent suicide, which is due to start shooting in late August.