London-based Saudi philanthropist and film producer Hani Farsi is venturing into TV production with two projects for high-end series, one on the advent of jet-set society and the other on Winston Churchill’s adventures as a young war reporter.
Through his Corniche Pictures, Farsi has optioned rights for the books “Swans —Legends of the Jet Society” by British journalist Nicholas Foulkes and to “Winston Churchill Reporting” by Simon Read. He intends to adapt both these properties into high-end series for which his company intends to fully finance development and a pilot episode. They are now in early development.
Rather than boarding projects initiated by others, as he’s done in the past, Farsi said he now “wanted to be able to own the IP and at the same time have more control over what we are doing.” “I’ve put myself in the position of being able to go [shop it around] with that universe more or less complete,” he noted.
Farsi said he was drawn to “Jet Society” because “there is that side of it which I’ve seen, growing up in the Middle East with a lot of wealth” and because of the parallels with the present. “Back then it was paparazzi and galas; now it’s the internet and Instagram.” He described “Churchill” as being in the vein of Che Guevara’s “The Motorcycle Diaries.”
Farsi is also “days away” from announcing a name director on “Arctic 30” Corniche’s long-gestating environmental thriller about the activists on Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship who were thrown into a Russian jail, on which the company teamed up with prominent British producer David Puttman, known for “Midnight Express,” “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission.” Bafta-winner Guy Hibbert (“Eye in The Sky”) has written the “Arctic 30” screenplay.
Meanwhile in Cannes he will hold an event on May 15 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his foundation and the graduate year of the 3 women who received the full four-year Arab women Filmmakers Scholarship at UCLA which he set up in 2015. The film school’s dean Teri Schwartz and the head of the British Film Institute, Amanda Nevill, will be attending.
“I want to raise awareness about it and see whether other organizations want to join,” he said. “I would love to be able to work on endowing a scholarship at UCLA and perhaps continue the endowment at other schools.”
Farsi is also in Cannes as co-owner of French distribution and sales company Le Pacte, which has four films in the official selection: Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” A.B. Shawky’s “Yomeddine,” Horkazu Kore-Eda’s “Shoplifters,” and David Robert Mitchell’s “Under The Silver Lake.”