Richard Raymond to direct story of Iranian dancer Afshin Ghaffarian.

New film Desert Dancer will tell the story of Afshin Ghaffarian, who used his passion for dance to protest against the injustices of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Actors Freida Pinto and Reese Ritchie are in Cannes today to announce the film alongside Ghaffarian.

UK production outfit May 13 Films is joining forces with Matador Pictures, Rostik Investment Group and 6 Sales on the project, in which Pinto, Alfred Molina and Ritchie will star.

Desert Dancer is the directorial debut of Richard Raymond, who produced 2009’s Heartless. The screenplay is by Jon Croker, who is also writing Hammer’s follow-up to The Woman in Black.

Principal photography is scheduled to begin this summer in Ankara, Turkey and Jordan. 6Sales are handling International Sales. CAA are handling domestic.

Set in Iran, where dance is illegal, Desert Dancer tells of how Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Ritchie) risked his life to fight for his dream to become a dancer. This film plays against the backdrop of the 2009 election protests, where the passion and defiance of a young generation lit the flame of revolution still sweeping the Middle East and Africa.

Producers are Richard Raymond, Nigel Thomas and Izabella Miko. Executive Producer are Luis Astorquia, Blue Pencil Set, Sixteen19 in New York and Steve Norris. Co-Producers are Parisa Dunn and Sarah Arison.