Josh Hutcherson, Ben Kingsley to Star in Political Thriller ‘Backstabbing for Beginners’

Per Fly will direct from a script he co-wrote with Daniel Pyne

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Oscar winner Ben Kingsley and Josh Hutcherson of “The Hunger Games” are set to star in the political thriller “Backstabbing for Beginners” for Parts & Labor, Creative Alliance and Scythia Films, it was announced Monday.

Per Fly (“The Inheritance”) will direct from a script he co-wrote with Daniel Pyne (“The Manchurian Candidate”).

Inspired by Michael Soussan’s critically acclaimed memoir, “Backstabbing for Beginners: My Crash Course in International Diplomacy,” the film tells the story of Michael (Hutcherson), a young idealist who lands his dream job as a program coordinator for the U.N.’s Oil for Food program. He is thrown into an already fraught post-war Iraq where government agents and power-hungry countries are circling Iraq’s oil reserves like sharks. He seeks answers from the one person he thinks he can trust, Pasha (Kingsley), his boss, a seasoned diplomat. The more Michael learns, however, the more he suspects a conspiracy at the highest level. The only way out will be to expose it all — risking his life, his mentor’s career, and the life of the Kurdish woman he loves.

Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy of Parts & Labor will produce with Malene Blenkov and Nikolaj Vibe Michelsen of Creative Alliance as well as Daniel Bekerman of Scythia Films. Patrick Ryborn from Eyeworks Scandi Fiction AB is co-producing. Production is slated to start in January.

Kingsley and Hutcherson will executive produce alongside Gregory Shockro from Houndstooth, Fortitude International’s Robert Ogden Barnum, Poa Strömberg from Eyeworks, Jacob Jørgensen from JJ Fim, Lars Tregart and Jeff Kalligheri from Waterstone.

Fortitude International, co-founded by Nadine de Barros, Robert Ogden Barnum and Daniel Wagner, is handling foreign rights and will launch sales at the upcoming American Film Market.

The producers arranged the financing with the help of UTA Independent Film Group, which is representing U.S. rights to the thriller. Entertainment One acquired all Canadian rights in a deal  negotiated by UTA Independent Film Group.

The film is an official Danish-Canadian co-production with support from the Danish Film Institute, DR, the Swedish Film Institute, SVT and Nordisk Film & TV Fond as well as the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Houndstooth provided tax credit and debt financing for the film.

“From the very outset, we wanted to develop, finance and produce this film in a way that was innovative and new, a way for Scandinavian filmmakers to make films away from home on their terms. We have accomplished that with ‘Backstabbing for Beginners.’ With the invaluable support of the Danish Film Institute early on in the process to us now bringing on Houndstooth and Fortitude to round out our partners on this exciting and relevant political thriller,” said Parts & Labor’s Knudsen on behalf of the producers.

“Michael Soussan’s firsthand account of the dark underbelly of one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations provides rich source material for Per Fly and Daniel Pyne who superbly capture the sharp and witty tone of the novel in their script. We couldn’t have asked for a better cast with ‘The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson who is a household name worldwide and Ben Kingsley, one of the best actors of our generation, who is consistently at the top of his game,” said Fortitude’s Barnum.

Kingsley currently stars alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Robert Zemeckis‘ “The Walk.” His upcoming projects include Anton Corbijn’s “Life” with Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan in December, Disney’s highly anticipated “The Jungle Book” in February and Terrence Malick‘s “Knight of Cups” in March.

Hutcherson starred in the Oscar-nominated “The Kids Are All Right” and “Escobar: Paradise Lost” with Benicio del Toro. He will next star in two films directed by and co-starring James Franco — “In Dubious Battle” and “The “Long Home” — both of which are in post-production.