EXCLUSIVE: In Absentia, a feature doc from the six-time Oscar-nominated director of My Left Foot and In America Jim Sheridan, has locked a sales deal with UK outfit Studio Soho.
The project digs into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French film and TV producer who was killed while at her isolated holiday cottage in West Cork, Ireland, just days before Christmas in 1996.
Sheridan has been researching the story for five years. The case has caused scandal and controversy in Ireland and France. In May this year, the French courts convicted Cork resident Ian Bailey in absentia of the murder and sentenced him to 25 years’ imprisonment. Bailey has protested his innocence for the past two decades and is living as a free man in Ireland, though remains under threat of extradition to France.
Since 2015, Sheridan has filmed with Sophie’s family and supporters at their homes in West Cork and Paris. The family’s ‘Justice for Sophie’ campaign led the French authorities to pursue the conviction of Ian Bailey for the murder and was key to the success of the French trial.
According to the production, Bailey is expected to be arrested for extradition in the coming months and could face a new trial.
Alongside doc footage, the feature will also include newly-shot dramatic material, with casting now underway for the role of du Plantier.
Producers are Nick Hamson and Jezz Vernon of Studio Soho and its new co-production wing Soho Talents, along with Jim Sheridan for Hell’s Kitchen and Hugues Peysson for L’atelier D’images. Chris Greenhill will co-produce, with Studio Soho International handling sales and Studio Soho Distribution handling UK distribution.
“I’ve been following these events for many years and I felt, after Bailey’s trial and subsequent conviction that now is the right time to make a feature evolving the Making Of A Murderer genre,” commented Sheridan.
“We’re looking forward to working with Jim on the first of several planned collaborations together, he’s one of the greatest storytellers in film and has an incredibly innovative take on how he plans to bring this to the screen,” added Hamson.
“It’s a deeply complex case that completely changed the nature of the locale and has had deep ramifications for the international legal system. We’re delighted to be able to support Jim’s vision to evolve this classic genre into a thrilling new form,” said Vernon.