Actor, author and activist David Harewood MBE (The Night Manager, Homeland, Supergirl) is set to direct his first feature film For Whom The Bell Tolls, produced by award-winning independent production company Fulwell 73 (Cinderella; The Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special; Sunderland ‘Til I Die).
Based on real life events, For Whom The Bell Tolls charts the legendary rivalry between two of Britain’s greatest and most famous boxers Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn. Set in the 1990s, the film follows the fighters’ fierce opposition, culminating with their infamous battle for the World Boxing Organisation middleweight title, a fight that defined their individual careers and was hailed as one of the greatest clashes to ever take place on British soil.
The film also explores the personal lives of the two boxing icons and the challenges both men faced outside of the ring, grappling with their own identities as they were pitted against each other on a global stage and exploring themes of black masculinity as they both emerge into the public eye against a backdrop of systemic racism. For Whom The Bell Tolls is a film about brotherhood, the blurred line between love and hate and the universal quest for belonging.
David Harewood’s esteemed acting career has spanned over three decades, with credits including some of the most-watched TV hits and films of recent years including The Night Manager, Homeland, Man In The High Castle, Supergirl and Blood Diamond. Through his documentary work, Harewood has also been a driving force for systematic and cultural change. From his documentary David Harewood: Psychosis and Me which explored his battle with mental health in his twenties, to contributing to documentaries like Black is the New Black, Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? and Why is Covid Killing People of Colour? which highlighted injustices people of colour face around the world today. His powerful first memoir Maybe I Don’t Belong Here is highly acclaimed and is already being used as a mental health resource nationwide.
Fulwell 73’s Leo Pearlman and Heather Greenwood are producers on the project, which is set to start filming in 2022. For Whom The Bell Tolls is co-written by renowned sports writer and author of On The Road and The Promised Land Daniel Harris who also serves as an executive producer; Belinda Joanna Ampah and Kieron Hawkes, who previously wrote and directed Piggy, also produced by Fulwell 73.
For Whom The Bell Tolls will also feature in the main strand of Film London’s Production Finance Market (PFM), taking place virtually October 12th – 13th 2021. The PFM is an annual two-day financing event for film held during the BFI London Film Festival, connecting filmmakers and financiers from across the globe.
David Harewood MBE, director, said: “I’m delighted to be at the helm of this fantastic project. It’s an exceptional script and I was drawn to it immediately as it covers many of the themes I have explored in my documentaries and so fundamentally in my book – that of Black British male identities and the unique struggle to find a sense of balance and belonging. As a result, it feels like the perfect time for me to direct this, my first feature film. As a boxing fan and someone who watched both titanic fights live, uncovering the personal and private stories behind those epic battles has been revelatory and I cannot wait to bring their stories to the screen.”
Leo Pearlman, partner at Fulwell 73, said: “Benn vs. Eubank is one of the most epic rivalries in sporting history. But as well as great athletes, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank are two of the most compelling and unique characters in British sport, both with incredible personal stories to tell. Fulwell 73 continues to build on its high-quality scripted slate and this is exactly the kind of story Fulwell loves to tell – one full of drama and heart, with vital resonance for today’s audiences.”
Heather Greenwood, senior executive at Fulwell 73, said: “We’re so excited to have David Harewood at the helm of For Whom The Bell Tolls. From the moment we first started speaking to him about the project, he truly understood the characters at the heart of the film and we knew he was the perfect person to help bring their stories to life. It’s an astonishingly rich cinematic tale full of humanity and tragedy, and we can’t wait to bring it to the screen.”
For Whom The Bell Tolls is one of a number of major scripted projects from Fulwell 73, as part of its expansion into this sector. The company was behind the recent Amazon Prime Video hit Cinderella starring Camila Cabello and is currently in production on Boundless, an epic high-end drama feature film and 3-part TV series for Amazon Prime Video that tells the story of the first circumnavigation of the world. Other upcoming scripted projects include Dragged To Church, an inspiring true story of a Welsh community that hosted a drag show to raise vital funds to bring their church back from disrepair being co-produced with Eve Myles’ (Keeping Faith) Empty Room Productions. Fulwell 73 was also behind the CW commissioned series Republic of Sarah and has optioned the rights to Helen Cresswell’s beloved children’s time travel novel Moondial to develop into a reimagined modern new TV franchise.