An update to a project we first profiled in August 2011 and have been following since.

Forest Whitaker has teamed up with Oscar-nominated Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb to star in the first film in a trilogy of English-language films that will explore the complex relationship between the west and the Arab world.

The questions I’m asking in my movies here in America are ‘Where are we?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ and ‘Why do we need to have hope in this relationship?’” the director of Hors la Loi (Outside the Law), his most recent work, and London River before that (both films we’ve covered on S&A) said.

Titled Enemy Way, in the film, Whitaker plays a Muslim released from prison into a small town in the Southwest USA, that’s seething with anti-Muslim sentiment.

It was initially titled Bill’s Law and is based on a 1973 French psychological drama titled Deux Hommes Dans La Ville (Two Men In Town) by Jose Giovanni. That film centerd on an ex-safe cracker, just out of prison, who finds honest work and a new love, and wants to go on the straight and narrow; but attempts by his ex-gang to lure him back into his former life, as well as the the determination of a vengeful cop who stalks him, nearly push him over the edge.

Director Bouchareb will transfer the action and drama from 1970s France to present-day USA, to a small town in the Southwest, near the Mexican border, and, will touch on American anti-Arab paranoia.

The project was budgeted at $20 million with pre-production scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012, with principal photography scheduled for last fall. Shoot dates were moved, and the project is now said to be close to completing post-production, and we have new details on the project we didn’t have before.

First, joining Whitaker in the film are actors Harvey Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, Ellen Burstyn and Luis Guzman.

We also now know that, in the film, Whitaker’s character will be hotly-pursued by a vengeful police officer played by Keitel.

Also the film is likely going to premiere at Cannes 2014, with hopes for a 2015 Academy Award nomination, which won’t be the first for the director, Rachid Bouchareb, whose last film, Outside The Law was among the final five films nominated in the foreign-language category of the 2011 Oscars. 

The film doesn’t have an American distributor yet.

Jean Brehat (who produced Bourchareb’s Outside the Law) is producing, along with Allen Bain (Just Like a Woman).

The press release states that the production employed at least seventy New Mexico crewmembers and three hundred principal and background talent.

Whitaker has bee very busy, from starring in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, to Kasi Lemmons’ Black Nativity, producing Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, and more.

Below is a photo from Enemy Way.