Television

BBC to make big screen wildlife film on 'The Meerkats'

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MUMBAI: BBC Films will collaborate with the BBC Natural History Unit to produce their first ever feature film together, The Meerkats.

The film is set to start principal photography this month in the Kalahari Desert. The Weinstein Company are co-financing the project, and will distribute the film internationally.

The Meerkats is directed by James Honeyborne, with Joe Oppenheimer and Trevor Ingman as producers. BBC Natural History Unit head Neil Nightingale and BBC Films head David M Thompson will serve as executive producers with co-president of production, Michael Cole and director of development and production Rhodri Thomas overseeing the project on behalf of The Weinstein Company.

The BBC Natural History Unit has been involved in feature films emanating from their own television series - Blue Planet and the forthcoming Planet Earth. But this is the first time such a project has been produced as a feature film right from the outset, asserts an official release.

The Meerkats is a revealing look at one family's daily struggle for survival in the harshest environment on earth. But what makes these natives of the African plains even more remarkable is a family dynamic which bears an uncanny resemblance to our own.

Whether they are going through the routines of daily life or locked in a very real battle to stay alive, The Meerkats is a look at how one family's connection to each other and their surroundings stands as a model of resilience and fortitude.

Talking about the film Thompson said, "This is a tremendously exciting collaboration. The Natural History Unit is the best in the world at what they do and we're really thrilled to be working with them at last. The film has huge emotional appeal and will really travel internationally. It's a great story, with a fantastic team behind it, and we hope this will be the start of a great partnership for the future."

Nightingale added, "I am very excited about the potential of this film project, combining the talents of the BBC Natural History Unit and BBC Films. With a strong and emotional story, featuring some of the most charismatic of wildlife characters, this film will appeal to a very broad cinema audience, in Britain and around the world."

BBC Films is the feature film-making arm of the BBC, developing, producing and financing an average of eight feature films each year.

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