Madrid-based producer Star Line has signed up the UK's Parallel Pictures and Italy's Planet Pictures to co-produce the long-planned ambitious new feature film version of Carmen.

The Euros 7m-plus film, from director Vicente Aranda (Juana La Loca), will begin principal photography in Andalusia on September 16 with actors Paz Vega (Sex And Lucia) and Leonardo Sbaraglia (Intacto) starring. Vega and Sbaraglia both won best new actor nods last year at Spain's Oscar-equivalent Goya Awards.

Star Line head Juan Alexander says that although dozens of film versions of Carmen have been made based on both the original novel by Merimee and the opera by Bizet, "this one may be considered the most faithful version to Merimee's original text."

Aranda co-wrote the script with Joaquin Jorda. An international sales company has not been attached yet. Carmen is also a co-production with Telemadrid and has backing from Television Espanola and Via Digital.

Carmen toplines Star Line's 2002-2003 slate, which also includes Cachorro, up-and-coming director Miguel Albaladejo's follow-up to critic-pleaser Rencor; Victoria Abril-starrer Adorable Creatures, a French-language co-production with Bagera shooting next winter; and writer Ramon de Espana's directorial debut, The House Of Pain (La Casa Del Dolor), a Coen brothers-style comedy shooting next month.