James Schamus’ banner Symbolic Exchange is teaming with Germany’s X-Filme, France’s Haut et Court and Andrea Calderwood and Gail Egan’s UK company Potboiler to produce a TV series based on Mary Gabriel’s Karl Marx family biography Love And Capital.
The project, which will be developed and produced in Europe, has attached playwright and screenwriter Alice Birch to pen the series. She recently wrote the script for William Olroyd’s feature debut Lady Macbeth, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year.
Story follows the real lives of the German philosopher-economist, his wife Jenny and their extraordinary daughters – Jennychen, Laura and Eleanor – as well as the life of fellow German philosopher Friedrich Engels and the two sisters he loved, Mary and Lizzie Burns. Their lives were lived at fever pitch and filled with illicit affairs, revolutionary plots, murder-suicide pacts, midnight escapes, aristocratic luxury and Dickensian poverty all against the background of a world on fire and the formation of ideas that still transform today’s society.
Published in 2011, Gabriel’s personal biography Love And Capital drew upon years of research of the Marx family and followed Jenny and Karl as they roamed around Europe, on the run from hostile governments amidst a secret network of would-be revolutionaries. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle and the Pulitzer Prize.
Marx is famously known for his theories about society, economics and politics – collectively understood as Marxism – which hold that societies develop through class struggle and that capitalism can only thrive on the exploitation of the working class.
“By allowing us to experience this extraordinary story through the eyes primarily of the women who lived it, Mary Gabriel allows us for the first time to feel the entire human drama that challenged our world,” said Schamus. “This is event television and a perfect topic for large-scale European co-production with partners of tremendous distinction and taste. To have a bold visionary like Alice Birch leading the initial creative charge makes this all the more exciting.”
Former Focus Features CEO Schamus has been making large strides with his banner Symbolic Exchange since it was founded in 2015. His directorial debut, Indignation, premiered at Sundance this year and was released by Summit/Roadside Attractions. It currently has a first-look and financing deal with Meridian Entertainment, under which it is producing Kitty Green’s Casting JonBenet and Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn.
X-Filme Creative Pool, led by directors Wolfgang Becker, Dani Levy, Tom Tykwer and producer Stefan Arndt, is the company behind films like Michael Haneke’s Amour and Tykwer’s Run Lola Run and recently moved into the high-end TV space with upcoming series Babylon Berlin, about a police inspector in 1920s Berlin.
Paris-based Haut et Court is one of Europe’s most successful indie TV and film outfits, with recent TV credits that include The Returned and multi-lingual thriller The Last Panthers.
Egan and Calderwood’s Potboiler, the banner behind John Le Carré adaptations The Constant Gardener and A Most Wanted Man, has also seen huge success in the TV space with Emmy-winning Generation Kill, produced for HBO and Stonemouth and The Field Of Blood for the BBC.