H2O Motion Pictures is producing the biopic “Herzl,” based on the life of political activist Theodore Herzl — one of the key players in the creation of the state of Israel — with a fall shoot planned, Variety has learned exclusively.
“Herzl” will shoot on location in Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul, London, Paris and Jerusalem. Hungarian-born Peter Medak, whose credits include “The Ruling Class” and “Let Him Have It,” will direct from a script by Nicholas Kazan, who received an Oscar nomination for “Reversal of Fortune.”
Andras Hamori, whose credits include “Sunshine,” “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Cheri,” is producing.
Set at the turn of the 20th century,”Herzl” follows the story of self-made political activist Theodor Herzl and his tumultuous family life with Viennese socialite Julie Naschauer. Herzl saw the solution to the “Jewish Question” in the creation of a new country and laid the groundwork for contemporary Israel.
Development began over four years ago, inspired by Bernard Zissman’s book “Herzl’s Journey” and a screenplay by Geoff Morrow.
“The creation of the Jewish State and Theodor Herzl’s role in it is one of the most sensitive and controversial political issues in the world today,” Hamori said. “Artistic reasons aside, the reason development took this long is because we wanted to ensure our approach to the story was as well-balanced as possible.”
In order to deal with potentially incendiary nature of the subject matter, Hamori assembled an advisory board for the project that included the late publisher and philanthropist Lord George Weidenfeld; producer/distributor Sharon Harel-Cohen; and Sidney Blumenthal, journalist and former aide to President Clinton.
Blumenthal will also serve as an executive producer on the project with Diana Phillips. Tibor Krsko and Julia Rosenberg will be co-producers.
Blumenthal was a political consultant for the HBO series “Tanner 88” and the executive producer of the documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side,” directed by Alex Gibney, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2007. He was an associate producer of the 2002 film “Max.”
Hamori’s producing credits include “Houdini,” “Owning Mahowny,” “The Samritan,” David Cronenberg’s “Existenz” and “Max,” starring John Cusack as an art dealer and Noah Taylor as a young Adolf Hitler.