EXCLUSIVE: English-language film produced by Gianni Nunnari and Endgame’s James Stern will be a US-China joint venture.

Chinese superstar Gong Li is to star in the film about Marco Polo being readied by producer Gianni Nunnari and director Tarsem Singh. She will play a Mongolian empress in the film which should gobefore the cameras in inner Mongolia towards the end of 2012.

Speaking to Screen in Cannes last week, Gong said that the film would be shot in English but would be a major US/China joint venture. “So far the collaboration between China and the US has mainly involved Chinese actors going to work aborad, so it’s a great thing to have a Chinese story shoot in China with both Chinese and foreign actors.”

She adds that the story of Marco Polo itself relates to communication between China and the west.

The actor playing Marco Polo has not yet been announced. The script follows the 13th century Venetian explorer on his adventures in China. Nunnari is producing with James D Stern of Endgame Entertainment.

Gong has yet to meet Tarsem but said that he was just the kind of “audacious film-maker you need to make a film about Marco Polo.”

Singh’s credits include the recently released Mirror Mirror, last year’s Immortals, The Fall and The Cell.

Before Marco Polo, Gong plans to shoot a Chinese film in the summer. The actress has been selective about her projects in the last decade. She was last seen in the Chinese remake of What Women Want with Andy Lau, while her English language credits include Rob Marshall’s Memoirs Of A Geisha, Mikael Hafstrom’s Shanghai, Michael Mann’s Miami Vice and Peter Webber’s Hannibal Rising.

She is represented by David Unger of ICM.