FremantleMedia International and Roland Joffe to develop ugly

MUMBAI: FremantleMedia International (FMI) and the Oscar nominated film director and writer, Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields, The Mission), today announced a co-development partnership for TV series Ugly. Joffe will write the vividly emotional and imaginative retelling of the world famous French gothic Victor Hugo novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Played out against the political economic and social explosion of early 17th Century France, the series follows the life of Ugly, the physically impaired hero of the piece and features a cast of extraordinary characters.

Roland Joffe said, "It's a cruel conundrum that beauty - much as it is desirable and desired - may be a prison both for those who have it and those who want it. At one level we all think we know what beauty is, but there are as many different kinds of beauty as there are varieties of love. Though physical beauty may encourage the continued expansion of the population at large, it may only be inner beauty that guarantees it's continued and continuing existence. In our story, Ugly is beautiful and much of what passes for beauty is ugly. Such is life, and life and love, cruelty and compassion, morals and money, are the subjects of our story."

Sarah Doole, Director of Global drama, FremantleMedia said, “FremantleMedia International are beyond excited about the opportunity to work with the extraordinarily talented Roland Joffe. Ugly is truly captivating and exactly the type of project that we have been seeking in our efforts to grow our creation of high end scripted dramas. We are looking forward to discussing the project with the broadcasters at MIPTV.”

In 1695 in the chateau of the Comte de Chateaupers a baby is born. Joy at the baby’s birth is quickly extinguished as it is discovered that the baby boy is deformed. At first sight, his grandmother hurriedly brings a pillow to spare the child from a life of pain and despair, but something in the child’s eyes stops her. Hours later a troupe of travelling actors discover a basket and within lies the newborn baby of surpassing ugliness. Meanwhile, the intemperate Comte de Chateaupers is presented with an heir, never knowing that the child has been hastily bought from a poor woman of the village. The series embarks on a heart-felt journey and shows what it means to be human regardless of your outward appearance. To wrestle with greed, insecurity and fear, to discover the force of compassion, the pain and power of love and the finding of beauty where it is least expected.

Joffe is universally praised for his international style of moviemaking. Beginning his career in British theater, Joffé was the youngest director at the National Theatre before entering the world of television via Granada, Thames and the BBC. Having worked across successful shows such as Coronation Street, The Stars Look Down and Bill Brand, he had the opportunity to hone his craft. Joffe found his initial success with two episodes of Play for Today, namely The Spongers, winner of a prestigious Prix Italia award and the Best Drama accolade at the Prague Festival, and United Kingdom, featuring Colin Welland. For the latter show, Joffe was nominated for a BAFTA and this laid the groundwork for his first film, The Killing Fields, a frighteningly realistic depiction of a Cambodia torn apart by war and terrorism. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acknowledged Joffe with his first Best Director nomination. Nominations for the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Critics Circle Awards bear testimony to his outstanding work on this film. The director’s second feature, The Mission, was hailed as a sweeping, cinematically beautiful historical drama about an 18th-century Jesuit mission in the Brazilian jungle. The film was the recipient of seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Director. It was also awarded the coveted Palme d’Or as best motion picture at the Cannes Film Festival and won Italy’s Michelangelo Prize.

Visit FremantleMedia at MIPTV 2014 at Stand No. C11.A1 (Croisette 11, Aisle 1), 7 - 10 April.


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