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'Cartel' director Asger Leth, off one ledge and on to another

July 26, 2010 |  3:42 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Last spring it was hard not to feel for Asger Leth, the up-and-coming director who saw his big-studio debut “Cartel," an action thriller set amid informants and mafioso in the Mexican drug wars, killed, as it were, just five weeks before production. The drugs wars were still raging in Mexico, so it was, er, not the best time to make a movie about the people fighting those wars right in their backyard.

But Leth won't come away empty-handed. The Danish director has lined up a new gig, and it's almost as high-profile. He's set to come aboard “Man on a Ledge,” a thriller that Sam Worthington will make for Summit and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

“Ledge” has some parallels to “Cartel" -- it’s also an action thriller involving crime fighters -- but it’s a bit more of a two-hander (it centers on a female psychologist and a suicidal New York City cop). And more important, making it won’t run Leth or anyone else in the cast and crew into the personal-safety issues that a Mexican-shot movie about drug cartels would.

Leth caught Hollywood's attention about four years back with a documentary he made called “Ghosts of Cite Soleil," about poverty, crime and kingpins in the Haitian slums. Studios have been eager to see him bring the gritty sensibility to a commercial film for a while now, at points attaching him to direct the ancient-Greece action-romance "Olympia." With Summit looking to shoot "Ledge" as early as this winter, it's good to see him finally get the chance.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Ghosts of Cite Soleil." Credit: Sony BMG Pictures


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GHOSTS OF CITE SOLEIL was cray-zee: MAN ON A LEDGE need only aspire to half its passion to be resonant.


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