EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated Girl With A Pearl Earring writer Olivia Hetreed is to adapt Shankari Chandran’s debut novel Song Of The Sun God for Synchronicity Films, producer of Jenna Coleman-fronted BBC drama The Cry, and Australia’s Dragonet Films.
Hetreed is working on a six-part series based on the 2017 novel, which is a family saga that brings to light an untold story of the conflict in Sri Lanka during the country’s two-decade-long civil war.
The novel is set across three generations, beginning in 1948 when the country gained independence, and journeying to the present day. Hetreed’s adaptation will focus on the youngest generation through Leela, a young woman living in London, who is disconnected from her culture and long-held family secrets.
Set against the backdrop of the controversial Sri Lankan presidential election of Autumn 2019, Leela embarks on a quest to find her Aunt Dhara, a former frontline medic during the civil war who vanishes after a trip to London. Leela’s search takes her to Australia and Sri Lanka.
Chandran, who will consult on the series, said: “It was vital to me to collaborate with a screenwriter who could stand where I stand, and tell of other worlds that are orientated around a different but equally important centre of gravity. Olivia Hetreed’s exceptional writing and her lived experience give her that deep empathy and insight.”
“Song Of The Sun God is a poignant, timely and deeply moving story of a conflict largely unexplored on screen, and in this case as seen through the prism of one family,” added Synchronicity managing director Claire Mundell. Karen Radzyner, a partner at Dragonet, said: “The power of the book is not only in the intimacy with which it handles big, topical themes of prejudice and belonging, but in the laughter and tears it generates.”
Glasgow-based Synchronicity Films optioned The Tattooist Of Auschwitz in 2018 and teamed with Nashville executive producer Steve Buchanan on music-centered mystery thriller Shepherd’s Retreat last December.