Produced by “The Great Beauty” director alongside Lorenzo Mieli for Fremantle-backed The Apartment Pictures, the film will be produced in Naples. Sorrentino, whose “Great Beauty” won an Academy Award in 2014 for best foreign language film, will both write and direct, though further details about the project remain sparse. The film’s title, however, may be a reference to Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona, who was a character in Sorrentino’s 2015 film “Youth.”
In an interview with Variety in 2015, Sorrentino said of the football legend: “Aside from all the things I’ve said before about Maradona, he involuntarily saved my life. I lost my parents when I was 16 in an accident with the heating system in a house in the mountains where I always used to go to with them. That weekend, I didn’t go because I wanted to go watch Maradona and S.S.C Napoli play a match in Empoli, and that saved me.”
Commenting on “The Hand of God” and referencing 2001’s “One Man Up,” Sorrentino said: “I’m excited at the idea of filming in Naples again exactly 20 years after my first film. ‘The Hand of God’ represents for the first time in my career an intimate and personal film, a novel of formation at once light-hearted and painful.
“The mutual understanding between myself and Teresa Moneo, David Kosse and Scott Stuber from Netflix on the meaning of the film was immediate and dazzling. They made me feel at home, an ideal condition, because this is precisely what this film means to me: going back home,” said Sorrentino.
David Kosse, VP of international original film at Netflix, added: “I’ve always been a huge fan of Paolo Sorrentino so as soon as we were presented with ‘The Hand of God,’ we knew that we wanted to partner with him and Lorenzo on this project. It’s an honor to work with one of the greatest filmmakers in Europe and to bring his incredible story to the world.”
Scott Stuber, head of Netflix Films, called the film “a beautifully written story in [Sorrentino’s] signature style.”
“To build a great film studio you need great filmmakers from every part of the world, telling stories in all languages,” continued Stuber. “With the majority of our membership outside of the U.S., under David’s leadership, we’ve been growing our international film business over the past year and look forward to bringing Paolo’s story and so many others to a global audience.”
Lorenzo Mieli, CEO of The Apartment, added: “It’s always a real pleasure to work with Paolo, and this time I’m happier than ever to be producing a film with him. Whenever we embark on a new project together, I’m always surprised by Paolo’s ability to reshuffle the cards and approach things from a new angle. His ability to look steadfastly ahead has enabled us to forge the perfect partnership with Netflix — the undisputed protagonists of innovation — so we can embark on this exciting new journey together.”
Sorrentino is represented by UTA, which negotiated the deal.