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Natalie Portman to direct first film, based on Amos Oz's autobiographical novel

Natalie Portman arrives before the 84th Academy Awards

Natalie Portman arrives before the 84th Academy Awards in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (Feb. 26, 2012) Credit: AP

JERUSALEM - Long Island-raised Oscar-winner Natalie Portman will write and star in her first feature film as a director, an adaptation of Israeli author Amos Oz's memoir, "A Tale of Love and Darkness."

The Jerusalem Post said Portman was one of 11 filmmakers awarded grants this week by the Jerusalem Film Fund, which was founded in 2008 to help support films set there. The paper said she received 2.55 million NIS (New Israeli Shekels), or roughly $400,000.

Filming is tentatively scheduled to start in January, the paper said, with Portman playing the mother of the young Oz in the 1940s and early '50s. The book centers on the mother's mental illness and suicide and its impact on the family.

Oz, 74, born Amos Klausner, told Reuters that Portman had "read 'A Tale of Love and Darkness' and asked me for the rights to make a film adaptation around five or six years ago. I agreed because of my high esteem for her work. She's an excellent actor."

He said he was helping with the script and that Portman would likely arrive in Israel in September for pre-production.

Portman, a 1999 graduate of Syosset High School, was born in Jerusalem, is fluent in Hebrew and holds joint U.S. and Israeli citizenship.

The "Black Swan" star previously wrote and directed the 2008 short "Eve," a 22-minute film starring Olivia Thirlby, Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara, and also wrote and directed a segment of the 2009 feature "New York, I Love You."

Portman's spokeswoman did not return a Newsday request for comment.

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