Loosely based on a story by Honore de Balzac, this historical drama is set in Egypt in 1798, as Napoleon was leading the French army into the Middle East. Officer Augustin Robert (Ben Daniels) has been assigned to escort artist Jean-Michel Venture de Paradis (Michel Piccoli), who is to record and catalog his findings as he studies the archeological and artistic treasures of the region before they're destroyed in battle. Augustin and Venture find themselves separated from the platoon with which they travel, and as they split up in hopes for finding water and shelter, Venture is driven mad by thirst and resorts to drinking his paints to survive. However, Augustin is befriended by a wild leopard, and he develops an unspoken communication with the animal that saves his life and teaches him a new understanding of other creatures. A Passion in the Desert was produced, directed, and adapted for the screen by Lavinia Currier; it was her first feature film.