EXCLUSIVE: BRON Studios and New Mandate Films have set a February production start on Harry Haft, a fact-based historical drama that Barry Levinson will direct, with Ben Foster set to star as the title character. Justine Juel Gillmer wrote a Black List script based on the Alan Scott Haft novel ‘Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano.‘ the film tells the story of a boxer who survived Auschwitz by being forced to fight fellow prisoners in the concentration camps in ghoulish gladiatorial battles. If he won, he got fed and allowed to live long enough for the next bout, while the 76 opponents he beat were led to their deaths in the camps. Haunted by the memories and guilt over the price of survival, Haft attempts to use high-profile fights against boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as a way to rediscover a reason to live and to again find the woman he fell in love with before the war, who fueled his drive to survive the Nazis. Creative Wealth Media is financing the film.
Harry Haft will be produced by New Mandate Film’s Matti Leshem (The Shallows), BRON’s Aaron L. Gilbert (The Front Runner, Tully, The Birth of a Nation), Jason Sosnoff (Paterno, The Wizard of Lies), the Oscar-winning Levinson and Scott Pardo (Hope & A Little Sugar). Creative Wealth Media’s Jason Cloth (A Simple Favor, The Front Runner, Fences) is executive producer. Harry Haft is a labor of love for every one involved in the film, several of whom had relatives who perished in concentration camps or who survived the Holocaust, with each searching for an accessible way to symbolize the survival struggle of Jews and others the Nazis deemed undesirable in its genocidal campaign across Europe. Properly executed, these are the kinds of films that movie audiences and win awards.
Foster received a Gotham Award nom for starring in the BRON-produced Debra Grank-directed Leave No Trace, and his recent work includes Hell or High Water, The Program, The Messenger, and Lone Survivor. Levinson most recently directed Al Pacino in Paterno and Robert De Niro in Wizard of Lies, both for HBO. Leshem, whose grandmother perished in Auschwitz and whose father was a Holocaust survivor who raised the producer in Israel, started New Mandate Films as an offshoot to his Weimaraner Republic Pictures banner to make films like Harry Haft, and he has folded under the NMF banner Keeper of the Diary, a film he’s producing with Reed Morano now aboard to direct for Fox Searchlight. It is about Otto Frank’s post WWII crusade to get published the diaries of his late daughter Anne Frank, and how he found an ally in a young editor and future publishing legend named Barbara Zimmerman. Oren Moverman is working on the latest script draft.
BRON is currently in production on the dramatic-comedy the Jay Roach-directed Roger Ailes feature drama that Lionsgate is now at the center of, with Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, John Lithgow, Alison Janney, and Malcom McDowell starring. BRON’s The Front Runner, directed by Jason Reitman and starring Hugh Jackman, will be released via Sony on November 6.
Endeavor Content is representing the picture with BRON. Foster is repped by UTA, Levinson and Gillmer by WME.