Project at script stage now with a likely 2011 shoot date.

An Italian bestselling war story entitled Venuto Al Mondo penned by Margaret Mazzantini is poised to be the project to reunite Oscar winning Spanish actress Penelope Cruz with Italian actor/director Sergio Castellito in a second film project, after Cruz gave an interview to Italy’s La Repubblica confirming her participation. Castellito’s Rome-based agent The New Agency (TNA) has confirmed to Screen that the project is advancing.

“It’s a real project, but for now it’s an agreement between artists,” said the TNA representative, who also specified the film would be produced by Castellito’s own production company, Alien, and that the actor/director is currently “adapting the screenplay with Margaret Mazzantini.”

TNA said no financing details were available as Castellito is still looking for financing partners, but that plans aim for a 2011 shoot date.

Cruz-Castellito first worked together in the 2004 Cattleya produced Don’t Move (Non Ti Muovere), Castellito’s first foray as a director and also based on an eponymous novel by Mazzantini, an award-winning author who is also Castellito’s wife.

The story is set in wartorn Sarajevo before, during, and after the Balkans conflict in the 1990s. The book uses flashbacks to create a temporal landscape for Gemma (Cruz), a mother who returns home with her adolescent son in search of their common roots.

Venuto Al Mondo, which could be translated as “brought into the world” has sold 600,000 copies in Italy and took the Campiello literary prize here. It has also been released in Spain and soon to be released in France. A US release of the book is planned for 2011.

Cruz spoke to La Repubblica from Los Angeles about her involvement in the project. “I have remained friends with Sergio and Margaret since Don’t Move. They sent me the Spanish translation of the book, which I read in one sitting and which left me enchanted. I immediately felt I had to do this film, I had to tell this story to the world. That doesn’t happen very often.” Cruz specifies that the book makes you “understand war” and the “fear and desperation” it produces.

Castellito is said to be approaching Javier Bardem or Benicio Del Toro to portray Gojko, a Bosnian poet.

The project will be shot between Rome, Sarajevo, Belgrade and Croatia.

Castellito is currently wrapping his second directorial project La Bellezza Del Somaro, a comedy with Luigi Musini and Roberto Cicutto’s Cinemaundici producing and Warner Bros distributing locally.