Olivier Assayas to Write and Direct ‘Wasp Network,’ About Cuban Spies

Although the title Wasp Network could evoke visions of a film about a very tense Connecticut wine and cheese party, Olivier Assayas’ just-announced next film’s title is the English translation of “La Red Avispa,” the name of a Miami-based Cuban spy ring on which the FBI cracked down, with multiple arrests, in 1998. His film, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is adapted from the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War: The Story of the Cuban Five, by Fernando Morais. The subject marks a turn for the director away from his most recent output, the genre-smashing mortality-contemplating diptych of Personal Shopper and Clouds of Sils Maria, in which he cast Kristen Stewart as somewhat ghostly assistants to celebrities. (At least, it seems that a potentially phantasmal service-job working Kristen Stewart wasn’t part of the group of spies at the core of this bit of history.)

The nonfiction thriller on which his upcoming film is based is the story of the five men who were imprisoned by the United States in the ’90s, and released one year prior to the publication of the book, in 2014. The five were part of The Wasp Network, a group of spies sent to infiltrate US-based Cuban groups that opposed Castro’s regime. The five who were arrested and given extensive prison terms were dubbed the Cuban Five, and the book, according to the official description, looks at “the decades-long conflict between Cuba and the US, the growth of the powerful Cuban exile community in Florida, and a trial that eight Nobel Prize winners condemned as a travesty of justice.”

While Assayas’ last two films have been more personal dramas, even those have played around with notions of internationality (and particularly globalization). The director’s past work has focused more obviously on recent history and political movements: his acclaimed mini-series Carlos was about Venezuelan Marxist terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, and his 2012 film Something in the Air is about the social climate among youth in France following the events of May 1968. He’s currently working on Idol’s Eye, a film about Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo, which will star Rachel Weisz, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert Pattinson, and

Read our interview with Assayas on Personal Shopper.