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PRODUCTION Netherlands

Peters adapts Sonny Boy

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Peters adapts Sonny Boy

Dutch director Maria Peters is currently in production on Sonny Boy, her adaptation of the eponymous novel by Annejet van der Zijl. The bestseller was in turn inspired by a heart-breaking true story of forbidden love that occurred in the first half of the twentieth century in the Netherlands.

Sonny Boy opens in 1928 and tells the tumultuous story of Waldemar, a 19-year-old black student from Suriname (then part of the Netherlands), and a married Dutchwoman in her 40s, Rika, who fall head over heels in love. A first test of the strength of their love arrives when they discover that she is pregnant. A second one arrives more than a decade later, when they hide several Jews in their home during WWII.

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Named after the nickname of the couple’s dark-skinned, blue-eyed firstborn, the 2004 novel has been an enormous literary success in the Netherlands. It has been translated into German, Italian, Swedish and Turkish, with translations in English, Japanese and Czech currently in the works.

The screenplay for the film was written by screenwriter Pieter van de Waterbeemd and the director, who previously made successful children’s films such as Little Crumb, Peter Bell and XTC: Just Don’t Do It. Actress Ricky Koole (The Silent Army [+see also:
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, The Dress) and newcomer Sergio Hasselbank, a first-year Amsterdam Media College student, play the leads.

Shooting Stars Filmcompany, the production company co-owned by the director, is the main producer of the film. The project also received backing from Catholic broadcaster KRO, the Netherlands Film Fund, the Suppletiefonds, the CoBoFonds, the Flemish Community and the City of The Hague.

Filming on the adaptation started in the coastal town of The Hague, with further locations including the province of Zeeland, neighbouring Belgium and, overseas, Suriname. Distributor A-Film eyes an early 2011 release for the high-profile film.

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