EXCLUSIVE: Tobias Lindholm, the Danish writer-director behind Oscar-nominated pic A War, is working on a project based on the life of American war reporter Marie Colvin. The courageous and steadfast correspondent for Brit paper The Sunday Times was killed while covering the siege of Homs in Syria in 2012.
This is one of two projects currently in the works on the heroine – Rosamund Pike has been set to play Colvin in an untitled pic based on a Vanity Fair article about the reporter, produced by Thunder Road Pictures with Matthew Heineman set to direct. But here’s why the Lindholm offering is interesting: This project is the only one supported by and has the full backing of Colvin’s family.
Lindholm is writing the script with the plan to direct. It’s being developed by Film4 with Oscar-nominated producer John Smithson, who has a strong background in bringing factual stories to the big screen. His credits include 127 Hours, the survival drama about mountaineer Aron Ralston, which earned six Oscar noms including Best Picture and Best Actor for James Franco, and Touching the Void, the story of two climbers and their perilous journey up Siula Grand in the Peruvian Andes.
Lindholm is one of the most sought-after European directors in the feature film space, having recently signed on to make his English-language feature directing debut for Lionsgate’s The Good Nurse, a thriller based on the true story of the pursuit and capture of serial killer and nurse Charlie Cullen.
Smithson quietly has been working on his Colvin project for nearly four years, building support with all of the people in her life including family and friends. “It’s been painstaking research,” he says. “We are making this with full support of Marie’s sister Cat and her family. They want to work with something that they say reflects the incredible complex person that Marie was.”
The team has also spent a huge amount of time with the different silos in Colvin’s life – her biographer Lindsey Hilsum, her newspaper and her photographer. “Each one of them has a tiny bit of the story, and we want this story to be one that best tells this remarkable life,” he says.
Speaking to Deadline, Marie’s sister Cat Colvin was clear that this project is the only one that she and her family are backing. “We’ve been working closely with John Smithson and Film4, and they’ve spoken to everyone to get as close to the truth as they can,” she says. “Their focus is much more on Marie’s whole life and they are working hard to get the facts straight.”
Cat, a former lawyer at IFC, tells Deadline she managed to get her hands on the script for the competing Pike-starring project, which is based on Marie Brennar’s August 2012 article “Marie Colvin’s Private War,” and it is, she says, “factually totally inaccurate.”
“It’s ironic that my sister devoted her life to developing her writing skills and being a truth speaker and that there is another project out there about her which is factually inaccurate,” she says.
Marie Colvin, one of the world’s most celebrated war reporters, worked in conflict zones including Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, where she lost her left eye in 2001. She wore a distinctive eye patch after that and dedicated her life to reporting the injustices of conflict in the world.
Lindholm is repped by WME.