EXCLUSIVE: In 2014, French playwright Florian Zeller won the Molière Prize for The father, a play about an aging man’s struggle with dementia. Seven years, a TV series and a French film adaptation later, Zeller is bringing his words to the big screen and the Oscar season’s awards race.
With Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, The father focuses on Anthony, an 80-year-old man who begins to succumb to dementia, refusing any assistance from his daughter.
Returning to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Zeller told Deadline that the inspiration for his game-turned-movie was his grandmother, who raised him. “She was like my mother,” he says. “She started having dementia when she was 15, so I kinda knew what it was like to go through this painful process.
The first-time director, who is shortlisted for the Best Screenplay award at the Golden Globes, has teamed up with a longtime collaborator and Oscar winner Dangerous Liaisons scribe Christopher Hampton on his film debut. The couple, who first met when Hampton sought to translate Zeller’s play for an English audience, co-wrote the script for the film. Although the narrative remained the same as his play, Zeller said Hampton helped add a cinematic dimension that would help audience members feel the disorienting effects of dementia throughout the film.
Producers David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Phillippe Carcassonne also helped bring Zeller’s play to the big screen. The father debuted in New York and Los Angeles theaters on February 26 via Sony Pictures Classics and is slated for a wider release on March 12, then available on Premium VOD starting March 26.
Read Zeller and Hampton’s script below.
More of this story arc
Read the scenario series