Paramount+ has partnered with Italian and German public broadcasters RAI and ZDF on coming-of-age TV series “The Gymnasts” from Italy’s Indigo Film (“The Great Beauty”) to be directed by Cosima Spender (“Palio”) and Valerio Bonelli.
Also on board as a key partner on “The Gymnasts” — which was recently presented at the Series Mania Co-Pro Pitching Sessions — is London-based super-indie All3Media International, which will be handling international sales of the show in territories not covered by its main broadcasters.
The project is part of The Alliance, the production pact forged among continental Europe’s leading public broadcasters to co-finance innovative, high-profile TV series for the international market.
But, in an interesting twist, “The Gymnasts” will be premiering as a Paramount+ original in Italy and across France, the U.K., Canada, Australia, Latin America and South Korea.
Based on Italian author Ilaria Bernardini’s bestselling novel “Corpo Libero,” the six-episode series revolves around a team of elite female teenage gymnasts engaged in an international competition high up in the snowy Italian Alps.
During what is the most important week of their lives, rivalries are fierce and relationships become complex as the young athletes vie for a chance at making the Olympic team. Tensions and obsessions escalate until it is revealed that one of the competitors is dead and the police suspect murder.
In the U.K. a translated version of the novel is set to be published in early August with the title “The Girls are Good,” following HarperCollins’ acquisition of world rights (excluding Italy). The book will also be published in the U.S. and Canada in 2023.
“The Gymnasts” will mark the first fiction project directed by Cosima Spender, who has helmed high-profile docs such as “Palio,” which went to Sundance, and Netflix’s first Italian doc series “SanPa:Sins of the Savior,” about controversial drug rehab founder Vincenzo Muccioli that made a splash in Italy.
She will be co-directing the series with her partner, Valerio Bonelli, a top notch editor whose editing credits include “SanPa: Sins of the Savior,” “The Martian” and “Black Mirror.”
The show’s writing team includes Chiara Barzini (“Arianna”) and Bernardini who penned the novel, Ludovica Rampoldi (“Gomorrah”) and Giordana Mari (“1993”).
“The theme of the adolescent changing body through the lens of a thriller fascinated us,” the show’s co-directors said in a statement.
They also noted that each character in the story “manifests a reaction to the pressures of the sport, which often pushes the dynamics between them to a toxic realm.”
Indigo Film partners Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano added that the show’s protagonists “are in that delicate moment of their lives in which the dividing line between childhood and adolescence is paper thin, especially for a gymnast who knows well that growing up means an end to flying and perceives their body as a cage.
RAI is the lead Italian production partner of “The Gymnasts,” which will air on RAI in Italy roughly a year after premiering in the country exclusively on Paramount+ in 2022.
In Germany, the show will instead be launched on ZDF’s ZDFneo streaming service as a ZDFneo original in 2023.
The series is co-produced by RAI Fiction with ZDF’s Network Movie unit. All3Media International is also taking an associate producer credit.
RAI Fiction chief Maria Pia Ammirati in a statement underlined that “‘The Gymnasts’ is a series that together with ZDFneo and within the framework of the European Alliance unites RAI to Indigo Film, Network Movie, All3Media, and the new Paramount+ platform.”
“We are proud to team up with our prestigious partners and friends to present ‘The Gymnasts’ as a ‘neoriginal’ on ZDFneo,” said ZDF’s senior VP of international fiction, co-production and acquisitions.
She added that the show proves “once again that Europe is a true melting pot; a young and exciting continent with a lot of extraordinary stories to be told. No wonder it is a project developed and commissioned by the European Alliance.”