EXCLUSIVE: In 2014, French playwright Florian Zeller won the Molière Award for Le Pere, a play about an aging man’s bout with dementia. Seven years, a TV series and a French film adaptation later, Zeller brings his words to the big screen and to the Oscar-season awards race.
Back at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Zeller told Deadline that the inspiration for his play-turned-film was his grandmother, who raised him. “She was like my mother,” he said. “She started to suffer from dementia when I was 15, so I knew a bit what it was to go through this painful process.”
The first-time film director, who is up for the Golden Globes’ best screenplay award, teamed with longtime collaborator and Oscar-winning Dangerous Liaisons scribe Christopher Hampton for his film debut. The pair, who first met when Hampton sought to translate Zeller’s play for an English audience, co-wrote the screenplay for the film. Although the narrative remained the same from his play, Zeller said Hampton helped add a cinematic dimension that would help audience members experience the disorienting effects of dementia through the film.
Also helping to bring Zeller’s play to the big screen were producers David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Phillippe Carcassonne. The Father will debut in New York and Los Angeles theaters on February 26 via Sony Pictures Classics and is set for a wider release March 12, then available on Premium VOD starting March 26.
Read Zeller and Hampton’s script below.