Filming is set to begin next month on a movie about the anti-globalization protests that erupted in Seattle in 1999.
"Battle in Seattle" was written and will be directed by Irish actor Stuart Townsend, who has cast girlfriend and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron as a pregnant bystander who loses her baby in the WTO riots.
"It's going to be the next 'Sleepless in Seattle,' " said James Keblas, head of Seattle City Hall's film office. "Once you capture a star like Charlize Theron, you are instantly a big picture."
Lower production costs mean the film will be made in Vancouver, B.C., but Keblas said he's trying to get some of it moved to Seattle.
"Battle in Seattle" will be an independent film with a budget under $10 million, said Mary Aloe, one of the film's producers.
The crew may spend a week shooting in Seattle, Aloe said, and Townsend hopes to use real WTO protesters as extras.
The 1999 World Trade Organization demonstrations turned violent as some 50,000 protesters swarmed Seattle's downtown area. A small number of protesters smashed storefronts and overwhelmed police, who responded with tear gas and mass arrests. Damage totaled about $2.5 million.
In the aftermath, former Police Chief Norm Stamper resigned and Mayor Paul Schell failed to win re-election in 2001.
The film will explore the "power of the individual" in the face of powerful governments and global corporations, Townsend told The Observer, a British newspaper.
The script will weave together cast members' stories while dealing with serious issues, similar to the Oscar-winning "Crash," Aloe said.
"The lead characters run from protesters to pedestrians to police to politicians," she said. "We did not want to give one point of view. When you see the movie, you'll feel a lot of gray areas. It's neither sympathetic nor unsympathetic to protesters and police."
Aloe added that Theron's character is "the voice of an outsider and the most relatable role for the audience because she didn't have any agenda as a protester or political leader."
Theron recently played a mineworker in the film "North Country," and won Best Actress Oscar for her depiction of a prostitute-turned-killer in the 2003 movie "Monster."
John Sellers, then-executive director of the Ruckus Society, one of the key organizers of the protests, said he hoped filmmakers give a thoughtful portrayal of protesters.
— The Associated Press