During a break in filming the SBS telemovie Saved in 2009, actor Osamah Sami told director Tony Ayres and his co-star Claudia Karvan an amazing story.

Sami related how his first marriage lasted precisely one hour and 48 minutes. “I immediately thought, ‘there’s a film in that,’’ Ayres tells IF.

Andrew Knight came on board to collaborate with Sami on the screenplay of Ali’s Wedding and Screen Australia has agreed to invest in the project.

At one point Ayres was keen to direct but he has a full schedule as the EP of Glitch and Nowhere Boys, so Wayne Blair will direct the romantic comedy.

Sheila Jayadev and Helen Panckhurst will produce for Matchbox Pictures, with Ayres, Michael McMahon, Greg Sitch and Nina Stevenson as EPs.

The plot follows Ali, the son of a Muslim cleric, who is caught between his sense of duty to his family and following his heart.

“It’s funny and truthful with a feel good quality,” Ayres says. “It has not been a great time for the tougher art house films. This film will leave the audience feeling good.”

No cast is attached yet. Madman Entertainment is the Australian distributor and Germany’s Beta Film will handle international sales.

Written by Belinda Chayko, Saved starred Sami as a young refugee who claims to be an Iranian student persecuted by the government but is held in detention because the Department of Immigration disputes his identity.