With a penchant for dealing in subjects sexual there always was a danger of wide exposure for French auteur Catherine Breillat.

The director of the controversial film Romance has begun work on The Old Mistress (Une Vieille Maitresse), which is to be produced through Jean-Francois Lepetit's Flach Film. The story is adapted from a novel by controversial 19th century journalist and writer Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, whose tragic stories dealt with violent emotions and were generally set in his native Normandy. International sales are likely to be handled through Flach Pyramide International.

Breillat is currently writing the script while continuing post-production on recently-wrapped Fat Girls, also produced through Flach. Fat Girls is an explosive tale of early female sexuality, featuring two teenage girls, set on the slopes of Mount Etna.

The controversial director is enjoying a renaissance since the release last year of Romance, a tale of unrequited love and bondage. One of her early films Une Vraie Jeune Fille recently obtained a release in France some 24 years after it was shot. She also co-scripted Venice competition film Selon Mathieu with director Xavier Beauvois.

Breillat joins a wave of unlikely French directors who have turned their attentions to period drama. These include Olivier Assayas with Les Destinees Sentimentales, Arnaud Desplechin with Esther Kahn, Patricia Mazuy with Saint Cyr, Luc Besson with The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc and Benoit Jacquot with Sade.