EXCLUSIVE: It has won numerous awards already, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and is a story about two strong and heroic women. Journalist Deborah Campbell’s A Disappearance in Damascus, a stunning account of her undercover assignment to report on the plight of Iraqi refugees in Syria, was just optioned by filmmaker Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father) who will mount either a feature film or limited series through his Seamus Productions. George will both adapt and direct.
The book follows Campbell’s undercover reporting and the friendship she strikes up with an Iraqi woman named Ahlam, who served as her fixer. It also follows Campbell’s dilemma and fight for her friend when Ahlam is arrested and disappears into the hellish Syrian prison system.
George told Deadline he “hopes to find a production partner for the story which is about real heroism.”
“As I read Campbell’s account, it reminded of Julia, and The Killing Fields,” George told Deadline. “Just like these great films, it’s a powerful political story made universal by the humanity of Ahlam and Campbell. It brings to life the terrible devastation wrought on the Iraqi people through the deeply personal story of the friendship between these women and the courage both of them showed in the face of the cruelty of the Assad regime.”
George has written and directed numerous television shows and feature films including The Boxer, A Bright Shining Lie, The District, Hart’s War, Reservation Road and Luck. In 2004, he wrote, directed and produced Hotel Rwanda, which was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Screenplay.
In 2011, his short film The Shore, produced by his daughter Oorlagh George, won the Academy Award for best Live Action Short Film.
The book option deal was negotiated by attorney Don Steele at Hansen, Jacobson and WME. Campbell is repped by APA and the Cooke McDermid Agency in Toronto.