"Precious" director brings "Tropics" play to screen

Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:32pm EST
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Precious" director Lee Daniels has signed on to develop and direct "Anna in the Tropics," a film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play by Nilo Cruz.

The story is set in 1920s Tampa, then the seat of cigar-making industry and featuring an imported Cuban tradition of lectors reading to workers. Inspired by Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," "Tropics" centers on a family of cigar rollers whose lives are changed by the power of literature.

The play was nominated for two Tonys, and was produced for audiences from Australia and China to Spain, Germany and France.

Daniels will develop the script with the Cuban-born Cruz while he also works on his civil rights project "Selma."

"I always saw it as a film," says Cruz. "Even though I wrote is as a play, I just think it has endless possibilities as a film. The play itself is full of images and I want to open it up to the world film offers."

Cruz will meet with Daniels in January to begin tackling the project, and sees a lot of common ground between the two artists. "I loved his use of fantasy and quotidian life in Precious. It was a wonderful combination. I think my piece also deals with similar level of reality," says Cruz.