EXCLUSIVE: John Battsek’s Oscar-winning Passion Pictures (One Day In September), James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis are teaming up to make a defining documentary about the Paralympic Games.
Provisionally titled Harder Than You Think, the film will chart the history and current standing of the Games, which has grown to become the world’s third largest sporting event.
Battsek and Greg Nugent of HTYT Films are producing with Broccoli, Curtis, U.S. paralympian Tatyana McFadden and former International Paralympic Committee (IPC) CEO Xavier Gonzalez among executive producers.
McQueen filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui are directing the feature, which is currently in production. HTYT Films holds the global rights, granted by the IPC, and have financed.
Set to be released summer 2020 in the run-up to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the film will blend rare archive footage with life-affirming stories of today’s athletes. Interviewees will include IPC President Andrew Parsons, former IPC President Philip Craven, and Eva Loeffler whose father Ludwig Guttmann founded the Paralympic movement.
Paralympians who have already been filmed or will be filmed include Jonnie Peacock (Great Britain), Jean Baptiste Alaize (France), Beatrice “Bebe” Vio (Italy), Shingo Kunieda (Japan), Daniel Dias (Brazil) and Tatyana McFadden (USA).
The film will also look at how events like the Invictus Games are building on the impact of the Paralympic movement, helping to challenge the perception of ability around the world. As part of this, filming has also taken place with Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex talking about his admiration for the Paralympic movement and the parallels with his own motivation for creating the Invictus Games.
Nugent was one of the key marketing minds behind the successful London Olympics and Paralympics of 2012. He told us, “This always felt like one of the greatest stories never told. I first learnt it in 2012 and it became clear that this was a hugely important story. Tokyo will be the biggest Paralympics yet, even bigger than the four billion who watched Rio. We’re exploring exciting distribution options for this film now.”
Battsek told us, “I was shown a very visceral and moving concept trailer by Greg. I didn’t know any of the details at that point but I soon knew it was an amazing story. There are so many inspiring and uplifting elements to it.”
Barbara Broccoli commented, “This will be a uniquely important film whose time has come. We hope it can be an agent of change in so many ways. Our ambition is for everyone who wants to see this film to have the chance to do so and we would encourage distributors to help make that happen.”
Richard Curtis added, “This film will help a new, global audience understand the incredible achievements of these athletes but also the challenges that they face on their journey. The world has committed to delivering its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Ensuring that no-one is left behind is critical to achieving that aim.”
Searching For Sugar Man exec-producer Battsek concluded, “We are currently experiencing a golden age in feature documentary filmmaking. The opportunity to bring the remarkable story of the Paralympic Movement to a worldwide audience working alongside a world-class creative team in Ian and Peter, and with the involvement of Greg Nugent and such an elite group of executive producers, is both an honour and a privilege.”