Paramount Pictures will handle UK distribution; Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough star.

Wild Bunch will handle international sales on new BBC Films spy thriller Shadow Dancer, with Paramount Pictures already on board for UK distribution.

Oscar winner James Marsh (Man on Wire, Project Nim) will direct. Tom Bradby wrote the script, based on his own novel.

The project was high up on last year’s Brit List of the hottest unproduced screenplays.

Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Aidan Gillen and Gillian Anderson will star in the film, which will start shooting in Dublin at the end of May.

Riseborough plays a young mother involved in the Irish Republican movement, whose brother is killed by British forces before she is involved in a bomb attempt. Owen plays an MI5 officer who gives her the choice of informing on her family or spending her life in prison.

Chris Coen of Unanimous Entertainment produces with Element Pictures’ Andrew Lowe and Ed Guiney.

BBC Films’ Joe Oppenheimer will serve as executive producer.

Coen said in a statement: “When I first read Tom Bradby’s book I fell for the incredible story of one woman’s choice to betray her family to save her son or spend 25 years in prison. Working with Tom on the adaptation was a very fulfilling process and, three years later, to have such a terrific director and cast attached is nothing short of amazing. I am very grateful to the BBC, UK Film Council and IFB for all their support over the past few months.”

Christine Langan, Head of BBC Films, added: “Shadow Dancer represents a wonderful development of our existing relationship with James Marsh and a chance to forge new ones with Chris Coen and Tom Bradby. With such a fantastic cast attached alongside the strong team behind the camera, we’re looking forward to bringing this thrilling story to the screen.”

The BFI’s Film Fund (recently moved from the now defunct UKFC) is also on board, as is the Irish Film Board and Lip Sync.

Tanya Seghatchian, Head of the BFI’s Film Fund, said: “After the success of both Man on Wire and Project Nim, it’s exciting to continue working with James Marsh on another compelling and ambitious project. It’s also a pleasure to be supporting Tom Bradby, a veteran journalist but a first-time British screenwriter, and both Unanimous Entertainment and Element.”

At Cannes this year, BBC Films has Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin in Competition.