After its world premiere at TIFF, HBO Films took the exclusive North American rights to Barry Levinson’s film The survivor on Holocaust survivor and American boxer Harry Haft. Ben Foster plays Haft in the film, and the photo depicts a new team for Levinson and him having previously worked on Heights of Liberty together.
After being sent to Auschwitz, Haft not only survived the unspeakable horrors of the camp, but also the gladiatorial boxing spectacle he was forced to perform with his fellow inmates for the enjoyment of his captors. Unbeknownst to those who attempt to destroy him, he is driven by the most important reason for any man to survive: a quest to find the woman he loves. After a daring escape, he travels to New York City, where he manages to use his boxing skills to make a name for himself in the hopes of finding his one true love. His indomitable spirit brings him to the ring with boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as he fights to make sense of his past and reclaim the life that was stolen from him.
The film is based on the book Harry Haft: Auschwitz survivor, Rocky Marciano’s Challenger by Alan Haft. Oscar-winning actor Levinson directs, teaming up with HBO after directing films such as Paterno, you don’t know Jack and The magician of lies, those HBO movies amassing 26 Emmys. Justine Juel Gillmer adapted The survivor.
New Mandate Films and BRON Studios are producers with Baltimore Pictures, Endeavor Content, USC Shoah Foundation and Creative Wealth Media.
The survivor also stars Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, Saro Emirze, Dar Zuzovsky, Danny DeVito and John Leguizamo.
Levinson, who also produced, said: “Having made many films at HBO, I don’t know of a better home for The survivor.“
Producers Matti Leshem and Aaron L. Gilbert said: “The survivor is the true story of a man who faces the ultimate moral dilemma in the face of one of the world’s greatest evils, Nazism. Harry Haft’s journey takes him from the depths of Auschwitz and into the ring with Rocky Marciano as he negotiates his new life and searches for the woman he loves. In a time when hatred based on race and creed escalates, Harry’s story is a reminder to overcome adversity through thick and thin. We were delighted to launch the film at TIFF and the tremendous reception we received afterwards. We are delighted that the HBO team are sharing our passion and we look forward to starting this important story with them.
Production of the film was aided by a team from the USC Shoah Foundation, who provided detailed historical advice in addition to access to a testimony from Haft, filmed in 2007 and kept in the Visual History Archives of the ‘USC Shoah Foundation.
Francesca Orsi, EVP, HBO Programming said, “We are extremely proud to bring The survivor to the public of HBO and HBO Max. Barry’s meticulous exploration of this true story of unimaginable choices, persistence, and redemption, coupled with Ben’s transformative performance, will captivate viewers and be with them long after the credits roll.
WME Independent negotiated the deal with HBO.