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Thursday 22nd August

John Battsek of Passion Pictures and Producer Greg Nugent announce new feature documentary – provisionally titled ‘Harder Than You Think’ – telling the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games

  • BAFTA-nominated directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui to direct
  • Producer Barbara Broccoli OBE, screenwriter Richard Curtis CBE, accomplished Paralympian Tatyana McFadden and former International Paralympic Committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez to serve as Executive Producers

LONDON, August 22, 2019 – Producers John Battsek of two-time Academy Award® winning Passion Pictures (One Day in September, Searching for Sugar Man) and Greg Nugent of HTYT Films are to produce a ground-breaking new feature documentary, provisionally titled ‘Harder Than You Think’, which charts the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games.

The film will be directed by BAFTA-nominated directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui (McQueen) and will tell the story of how the Paralympic Games grew from its post-war inception to become the world’s third largest sporting event.

Producer Barbara Broccoli OBE (James Bond franchise) and BAFTA winning and Academy Award® nominated screenwriter Richard Curtis CBE (Yesterday, Love Actually) will serve as Executive Producers together with accomplished US Paralympian Tatyana McFadden and former International Paralympic Committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez.

HTYT Films hold the global rights, granted by the International Paralympic Committee, and have financed the film.

The film will be produced in association with Misfits Entertainment.

Set to be released Summer 2020 in the run-up to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the film will chart the story of how one man’s vision that sport can deliver purpose to people with a disability sparked a movement which over half a century has grown into the third biggest event on the planet.

The filmmakers will blend never-before-seen archive footage through to the extraordinary stories of today’s athletes, leaders and visionaries. With production now underway, filming completed to-date includes current IPC President Andrew Parsons, former IPC President Sir Philip Craven MBE, and Eva Loeffler OBE whose father Sir Ludwig Guttmann founded the Paralympic movement. A range of renowned Paralympians from around the world have also been filmed or are scheduled to be filmed in the future including Jonnie Peacock MBE (Great Britain), Jean Baptiste Alaize (France), Beatrice “Bebe” Vio (Italy), Shingo Kunieda (Japan), Daniel Dias (Brazil) and Tatyana McFadden (USA).

The film will also talk about how other events like the Invictus Games are building on the huge impact of the Paralympic movement, helping to challenge and continue to change the perception of ability right around the world. As part of this, filming has also taken place with HRH the Duke of Sussex talking about his admiration for the Paralympic movement and the parallels with his own motivation for creating the Invictus Games.

At a time when a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry remains firmly in the spotlight, this major new documentary will be a landmark piece of filmmaking whose ambition is to change the way the world thinks about human potential.

Greg Nugent of HTYT Films said: “It is a great honour to be given the chance to bring this extraordinary story to a global audience. It is a story that has never been more important and we are thrilled to have attracted such a talented, creative and diverse team to help us tell it.”

Producer John Battsek said: “We are currently experiencing a golden age in feature documentary filmmaking. The opportunity to bring the remarkable story of the Paralympic Movement to a worldwide audience working alongside a world-class creative team in Ian and Peter, and with the involvement of Greg Nugent and such an elite group of Executive Producers, is both an honour and a privilege.”

Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime story for us to tell, and there’s never been a better time to tell it. It’s a story with an incredibly cinematic sweep, full of emotion. We want to take audiences on a visceral rollercoaster ride that reflects the many hurdles, disasters and triumphs that the Paralympic Movement has faced on its epic journey from a minor English tournament to this massive global event. It’s a story that inspires and challenges us as filmmakers, and we look forward to opening the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere to some of the most astonishing human and sporting stories you will ever experience.”

US Paralympian Tatyana McFadden said: “It is fantastic that this film will tell the story of the Games from its inception to the current day. But we want it to be much more than a film about sport. It is about the strength of the human spirit.”

Former International Paralympic Committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez said: "It has been a privilege to be at the heart of the Paralympic Movement for more than 20 years and to work closely with these extraordinary high performance athletes. I believe this film will bottle the spirit of the Paralympics and spread its energy to every corner of the globe. Attitudes to disability are at a tipping point and this film will change them for good.

Executive Producer Barbara Broccoli, said: “This will be a uniquely important film whose time has come. We hope it can be an agent of change in so many ways. Our ambition is for everyone who wants to see this film to have the chance to do so and we would encourage distributors to help make that happen.”

Executive Producer Richard Curtis, said: “This film will help a new, global audience understand the incredible achievements of these athletes but also the challenges that they face on their journey. The world has committed to delivering its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Ensuring that no-one is left behind is critical to achieving that aim.”

Craig Spence, IPC Chief Marketing and Communications Officer said: “The story of the Paralympics is the greatest story never told. We are thrilled that filmmakers of the highest calibre will now tell the extraordinary story of how the Paralympics have grown from an event with a handful of athletes at the back of a rehabilitation hospital to a mega-event attracting millions of spectators and billions of TV viewers. It will be a celebration of diversity and a showcase of human endeavour.”

For further information:

  • Contact: Soleil Zuanich, freuds - [email protected]; 020 3003 6489
  • Visit: HTYT.world | Twitter: @HTYTFilm | Instagram @HTYTFilm | Facebook: @HTYTFilm


The Paralympic Games

  • Since 1948, the Paralympic Games have grown from an event watched by hundreds on a hospital lawn in Stoke Mandeville into the world’s third largest sporting event after the Olympics and FIFA World Cup
  • The Paralympic Games now attract more than 4,300 athletes from 160 countries
  • The most recent 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro had a cumulative global TV audience of 4.1 billion people

About John Battsek and Passion Pictures

John Battsek is the Managing Director and Lead Producer for Passion Pictures. He was a Producer of One Day in September (1999) and an Executive Producer of Searching for Sugar Man (2012), both of which won Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary in 2000 and 2013 respectively. John has also won a Primetime Emmy in 2013 for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special for Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt For Bin Laden. He has been nominated for three further Primetime Emmy awards as well as a BAFTA for Best Documentary in 2016.

About HTYT Films

HTYT Films has been established by Greg Nugent and Godric Smith. Both were Directors of London 2012 and played major roles in the success of the London Paralympic Games. Greg was the Marketing Director at London 2012 in charge of marketing the London Paralympics. In 2016 Greg created the #FILLTHESEATS campaign that took 45,000 Rio kids to the Rio Games.

About Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui

Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhôte are the award-winning directors behind McQueen (2018), the two-time BAFTA-nominated and critically acclaimed biopic of fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

About Tatyana McFadden

Tatyana McFadden is an American Paralympian who has won 17 medals across four Paralympic Games including seven gold medals, with plans to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Originally born in Russia, McFadden is the adoptive daughter of Deborah McFadden, former Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Health Department.

About Xavier Gonzalez

Xavier Gonzalez was the Chief Executive Officer of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) from 2004 until 2019. He is also a recipient of the Paralympic Order, the highest award a person connected with the Paralympic Movement can achieve, honouring outstanding services to the Paralympic cause.

About Richard Curtis CBE

Richard is a screenwriter, director and producer. His credits include Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2011), Love Actually (2003), War Horse (2011) and Yesterday (2019). Richard co-founded Comic Relief/ Sport Relief/ Red Nose Day, was a producer for Live 8 & the Make Poverty History campaign and is a UN Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals.

About Barbara Broccoli OBE

Barbara Broccoli is producer of the James Bond film series with her brother Michael G. Wilson. Broccoli became associate producer with Tom Pevsner on The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. Together with Wilson, Broccoli has produced the last eight Bond films including, Skyfall and Spectre. They are currently producing The Rhythm Section starring Blake Lively and directed by Reed Morano. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool produced by Broccoli and Colin Vaines starring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters and Vanessa Redgrave, directed by Paul McGuigan has recently been released. Through her independent production company, Astoria Productions, Broccoli produced Crime of the Century for HBO. Starring Stephen Rea and Isabella Rossellini, the television film was directed by Mark Rydell.

Broccoli and Wilson have executive produced several independent film projects including: The Silent Storm, starring Damian Lewis and Andrea Riseborough, directed by Corinna McFarlane; Radiator starring Richard Johnson, Gemma Jones and Daniel Cerqueira, directed by Tom Browne and Nancy, starring Andrea Riseborough, J. Smith-Cameron, Ann Dowd, John Leguizamo, and Steve Buscemi, directed by Christina Choe.

Broccoli was appointed Vice President for Film by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in April 2016. Broccoli is also President of the National Youth Theatre, a Trustee of Into Film, a film education charity working with young people aged 5-19 and is a patron of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. In 2014, Broccoli and Wilson were honoured by the Producers Guild of America with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award

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