The life of Mother Teresa may be headed for the big screen with independent producers Tony Krantz and Jamey Volk working with The Mother Teresa Center to develop an authorized “I Thirst” project.
“Hotel Rwanda” screenwriter Keir Pearson has come on board to write the screenplay. Krantz is producing through his Flame Ventures banner and Volk via Origin Entertainment.
The story will focus on Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta during the 1950s when she founded the Missionaries of Charity after hearing a call from the Lord to begin ministering to the poorest of India’s poor. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and by the time of her death in 1997, the order had grown to more than 4,000 sisters running orphanages, hospices and charity centers.
“Keir’s presentation and his Oscar nominated script of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and his sensitive script for ‘Chavez’ (the story of Cesar Chavez to be released this year) made him the perfect choice,” Krantz said. “’I Thirst’ is the first and only authorized film about the life of Mother Teresa on the big screen. We couldn’t be more excited for this movie about a woman who stood for total commitment, faith, charity and love.”
Krantz told Variety that he and Pearson will go to India to complete research during the next month and Pearson will begin writing by the end of February. He’s hoping that the project will attract a top-line director and actress and that shooting can take place in Calcutta later this year.
“We’re eager to get this story to the global audience,” Volk said. “Our goal is to go into principal photography by the end of 2014 with a broad global release during spring or summer of 2015.”
Krantz told Variety that he began working on “I Thirst” following an attempt to develop a Buck Rogers project through those rights holders, who were repped by Corey Field of Ballard Spahr LLP. After those efforts fell through, Field told Krantz that he also represented the Mother Teresa Center, the exclusive licensee throughout the world of all intellectual property rights of the estate of Mother Teresa (owned by the Missionaries of Charity Sisters).
Krantz met with the center’s respresentatives, who told him that issues of creative control had stopped two previous efforts to produce an authorized Mother Theresa movie.
“I told them that they would have final approval and we had an agreement in about 15 minutes,” Krantz said.
He also said “I Thirst” will include personal episodes in Mother Teresa’s life such as her crisis of doubt.
“This is not going to be a movie about Catholicism,” Krantz said. “It’s going to focus on her deeds.”
Reece Pearson of Flame Ventures and Dick Lyles of Origin Entertainment will serve as exec producers and The Mother Teresa Center will serve as technical consultants.
Krantz has executive produced such series as “24,” “Sports Night” and “Felicity” and has directed three feature films, including “The Big Bang.” Krantz also produced “Mulholland Drive” and is in pre-production on a sci-fi thriller “Six,” which Krantz will direct and produce next year.
Origin is also exec producing a pair of upcoming features — “Mary” and “A Guy Called Michael Egan.”