On February 16, the Berlinale Co-Production Market is hosting the second edition of its exclusive “CoPro Series” event: 7 selected projects will be looking for co-production and financing partners.
Among the selection, given this blog’s interests, is "The Illegal" from Canadian filmmaker/producer Clement Virgo (he most recently directed "The Book of Negroes") via his Conquering Lion Pictures production house.
Classified as a dystopian story, "The Illegal" will be based on author Lawrence Hill’s new novel "The Illegal," which the Toronto-based Conquering Lion Pictures acquired rights to adapt last summer. By the way, Lawrence Hill also penned "The Book of Negroes."
Set in the near future, "The Illegal" follows the journey of Keita Ali, a young marathon runner who flees his repressive native home and finds himself in a community of undocumented refugees living in a wealthy country. Ali struggles to elude officials who would deport him, while trying to carve out a new life and identity for himself in his new environment.
"The Illegal" is said to tackle dystopian themes similar to those seen in "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent," making it well-positioned as a potential franchise property, Virgo said, depending on the success of the initial feature.
“It’s very much a genre piece, it’s very much a thriller,” Virgo said.
"The fate of refugees – in Canada and around the world – is an important and topical issue, and it will be challenging and exciting to dramatize these issues in a feature film," author Hill added.
The novel hits retailers on January 25. You can pre-order a copy via Amazon here.
The producers have been shopping the project to potential partners and distributors since the fall, with a stop at the Berlinale Co-Production Market as their next stop – part of the European Film Market, running from February 14-16, 2016.