House Productions, the indie production company founded by former Film4 boss Tessa Ross and ex-Working Title exec Juliette Howell, has acquired the international film and TV rights to Jack Fairweather’s critically acclaimed biography “The Volunteer.”
The team behind the Emmy-nominated HBO and Channel 4 drama “Brexit: The Uncivil War,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, secured a multi-territory deal for the book through a financing partnership with Access Entertainment, which will see Ross and Howell develop the project. The publishers are WH Allen/Penguin Random House U.K. and Custom House/Harper Collins in the U.S.
The former war reporter’s extraordinary biography is the untold true story of Witold Pilecki, a covert operative who volunteered to be captured and taken to Auschwitz in order to infiltrate the camp. Pilecki planned to organize a resistance from within, gather evidence of the atrocities being committed against thousands of European Jews, and ultimately attack the Nazi forces from where they’d least expect.
However, Pilecki’s incredible and heroic story would later be wiped from the annals of history by Poland’s communist government, and the man himself branded a traitor and enemy of the state.
Fairweather’s account pieces together first-hand testimonials from survivors, along with unique access to unpublished diaries and newly released archival documents. It recently won the Costa Book of the Year award in the U.K.
“Jack’s book is an astonishing account of a vital story that demands to be told,” said Ross, co-CEO of House Productions. “Witold Pilecki’s heroism was remarkable and it is a great honor to be entrusted with this book so we can share his story.”
Fairweather said: “I’m delighted that Witold Pilecki’s inspirational story of defiance in the face of man’s greatest evil has found a filmmaker of Tessa’s power and vision. In her hands, this once unsung hero will reach the audience he deserves.”