HBO has partnered with RAI, Italy’s public broadcasting company, for My Brilliant Friend, an eight-episode original drama series from Saverio Costanzo (Hungry Hearts), based on the bestselling book by Elena Ferrante. In a rare move, the series will be filmed in Italian and will air with English subtitles on HBO in the U.S. Production is scheduled to begin this summer, with Costanzo directing all eight episodes.

My Brilliant Friend is the first volume of the four-part Neopolitan Novel series by Ferrante, a pseudonym for an author who has remained anonymous. It was published in the U.S. by Europa Editions.

Europa Edition

My Brilliant Friend is a story about the strength of female friendship. When the most important friend in her life seems to have disappeared without a trace, Elena Greco, a now-elderly woman immersed in a house full of books, turns on her computer and starts writing the story of their friendship. She met Raffaella Cerullo, whom she has always called Lila, in the first year of primary school in 1950. Set in a dangerous and fascinating Naples, their story thus begins and goes on to cover over 60 years of their lives, trying to describe the mystery of Lila, Elena’s brilliant friend and – in a way – her best friend and her worst enemy.

The TV adaptation is penned by Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci and Costanzo. Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani produce for Wildside and Domenico Procacci for Fandango.

“We are thrilled to partner with Wildside, Rai and Fandango to bring the powerful, epic storytelling of Elena Ferrante and her Neapolitan Novels to life,” said Casey Bloys, president HBO Programming. “Through her characters, Elena and Lila, we will witness a lifelong friendship set against the seductive social web of Naples, Italy.”

Notes Antonio Campo Dall’Orto, director general, RAI called My Brilliant Friend, the network’s first co-production with HBO, Italian and international; universal but complex; and a huge co-production with a global value.”

Jennifer Schuur executive produces for Wildside and Fandango. FremantleMedia International will handle international distribution.

HBO recently collaborated with Wildside on Paolo Sorrentino’s The Young Pope, which aired on the premium cable network in the U.S.