Hollywood tackles Hitler's Leni

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Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster will play the leading role of Riefenstahl in a work that is bound to generate immense argument, as it examines the beautiful woman who became Adolf Hitler's favourite director and whose slick propaganda helped the Nazi war machine.

The on-again, off-again project has been in the works for at least seven years, but now a script is being written - by British writer Rupert Walters - and a director is being negotiated. People involved in the movie say the director should be announced within two or three months and shooting should start by the end of next year at the latest. 'I am hoping to be shooting before then,' said Gabriele Bacher, a producer at Primary Pictures, who will make the film along with Foster's own company.

Foster is no stranger to controversial roles, including her award-winning portrayals of a rape victim in The Accused and a child prostitute in Taxi Driver. But few parts in modern Hollywood history will generate as much debate as Riefenstahl. It will open Foster to charges of lionising an anti-Semite who played a key role in the Third Reich.

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