Fremantle Australia has signed Justin Kurzel to direct a limited run series based on Australian author Richard Flanagan’s Booker prize winning novel, The Narrow Road To the Deep North.
Kurzel’s long-time collaborator, Shaun Grant, will pen the adaptation, with Fremantle’s director of scripted Jo Porter producing. Other Fremantle execs involved will include Chris Oliver Taylor, Amy Noble and Nat Lindwall.
Centring on Flanagan’s father’s own story and set against the backdrop of the brutality of the Thai-Burma Railway, which the Japanese had their prisoners of war build in the second world war, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a powerful insight into the many forms of love.
The series will be Kurzel’s second TV drama. He is currently in production on Shantaram for Paramount Television.
Kurzel and Grant have previously collaborated on their breakout feature, Snowtown and True History of the Kelly Gang, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Kurzel also directed Palme D’or nominated feature Macbeth.
Grant's writing credits include Berlin Syndrome and Jasper Jones, Netflix series Mindhunter and upcoming feature Penguin Bloom starring Naomi Watts.
Kurzel said he was ”extremely honored to be trusted by Richard Flanagan to bring to life this complete masterpiece of a novel. I am so excited to be collaborating again with Shaun Grant and can't wait to work with the Fremantle team in creating such an epic and incredibly powerful story.”
Grant added: “Having read Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North several years ago, and being moved beyond words, I am excited to adapt his sublime novel for the screen. My grandfather was a Prisoner of War, who worked the Thai-Burma railway, hence this project is very dear to my heart.”
Flanagan said he was “genuinely delighted” by the project. “Justin Kurzel is rightly considered to be one of the most exciting directors in world cinema today, and Shaun Grant is a marvellous writer of equivalent talent who brings to the project a deep personal connection. It feels very right to me and I have a suspicion that the resulting series may just be astonishing.”
The Narrow Road To the Deep North expands Fremantle’s international drama slate which includes Mosquito Coast starring Justin Theroux, a deal with Showtime for the adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast book series with Toby Whithouse serving as showrunner, and Neil Gaiman and Akiva Goldman as executive producers. Both are being made by Fremantle North America, while Fremantle’s UK production banner, Euston Films recently announced its ITV commission of the Neil Cross penned drama Because the Night.