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PRODUCTION / FUNDING UK / France / Ireland

Studio Soho and L’Atelier d’Images join forces with Hell’s Kitchen and Soho Talent on In Absentia

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- Jim Sheridan is set to direct this hybrid feature documentary based on the unsolved murder of French film and TV producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Studio Soho and L’Atelier d’Images join forces with Hell’s Kitchen and Soho Talent on In Absentia
Director Jim Sheridan

British outfits Studio Soho and Soho Talent, France’s L’Atelier d’Images, and Ireland’s Hell’s Kitchen have formed an international team to produce the feature-length documentary In Absentia, based on the unsolved murder of French film and TV producer Sophie Toscan du PlantierScreen Ireland and RTE are also supporting the production. Six-time Oscar-nominated Jim Sheridan is attached to direct.

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Toscan du Plantier was murdered with horrifying ferocity while taking a short break at her isolated holiday cottage in West Cork, Ireland, just days before Christmas in 1996. In May this year, the French courts convicted Cork resident Ian Bailey in absentia of the brutal murder and sentenced him to 25 years’ imprisonment. Bailey has protested his innocence for the past two decades. Despite his conviction, he is currently living as a free man in Ireland but remains under constant threat of extradition to France through a European Arrest Warrant.

The murder has been extensively covered by UK, French and Irish media over the past two decades, and Sheridan himself has been investigating the story for the last five years. The case has caused scandal and controversy in Ireland and France as the investigation has rolled on, and it has created legal history as it has unfolded.

Jim Sheridan, of Hell’s Kitchen, commented, “I’ve been following these events for many years, and I felt, after Bailey’s trial and subsequent conviction, that now is the right time to make a feature evolving the Making of a Murderer genre.”

Since 2015, Sheridan has been filming with Toscan du Plantier’s family and supporters at their homes in West Cork and Paris. The family's dignified “Justice for Sophie” campaign led the French authorities to pursue the conviction of Ian Bailey for the murder and was key to the success of the French trial.

The movie will also feature dramatised documentary footage, and Sheridan will shortly begin casting for the role of Toscan du Plantier.

Jezz Vernon, of Studio Soho, said, “It’s a deeply complex case that completely changed the nature of the locale and has had deep ramifications for the international legal system. We’re delighted to be able to support Jim’s vision to evolve this classic genre into a thrilling new form.”

Studio Soho and Soho Talent’s Nick Hamson and Jezz Vernon will produce, along with Jim Sheridan for Hell’s Kitchen and Hugues Peysson for L’Atelier d’Images.

Chris Greenhill and Soho Talent will co-produce, with Studio Soho International handling sales and Studio Soho Distribution in charge of the UK distribution.

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