HBO has announced their acquisition of the biopic The Survivor starring Ben Foster from BRON Studios and New Mandate Films, based on the book Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano by Alan Haft. HBO’s acquisition of the film comes after The Survivor premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and received critical praises for the direction and the cast’s performances.
“We are immensely proud to bring The Survivor to the HBO and HBO Max audience,” said Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President of HBO Programming. “Barry’s meticulous exploration of this true story of unimaginable choices, perseverance and redemption coupled with Ben’s transformative performance will captivate viewers and stay with them long after the credits roll.” When talking about the film, Levinson said that he believes that HBO is a perfect place for the film after having done a number of films with them.
The film was directed by Academy Award-winner Barry Levinson (Paterno) and was written by The 100‘s Justine Juel Gillmer. In addition to Foster, The Survivor‘s ensemble cast includes Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, Saro Emirze, Dar Zuzovsky, Danny DeVito (who also acts as an executive producer on the film), and John Leguizamo.
The Survivor tells the real-life story of Harry Haft, a man that was forced to take part in a gladiator-esque spectacle for his captors during his imprisonment at Auschwitz. After escaping the camp and making his way to New York, he uses the boxing skills that he cultivated to make a name for himself in the sport while also searching for the woman that he loves. The film’s production was aided by a team at USC Shoah Foundation, who provided detailed historical consulting in addition to access to testimony from Haft, filmed in 2007 and preserved within USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
Levinson also acts as a producer on the film alongside Matti Leshem of New Mandate Films, Aaron L. Gilbert of BRON Studios, Baltimore Pictures’ Jason Sosnoff, and Scott Pardo. Along with Devito, executive producers are Joel Greenberg, Ben Foster, Brenda Gilbert, Steven Thibault, Ashley Levinson, Anjay Nagpal, Ron McLeod, Jason Cloth, and Richard McConnell. Leshem and Gilbert had this to say about the film:
“The Survivor is the true story of a man who confronts 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 seeks the woman he loves. At a time when hatred based on race and belief is escalating, Harry’s story is a reminder of overcoming adversity against all odds. We were thrilled to launch the film at TIFF and the subsequent tremendous reception we received. We are delighted that the team at HBO shares our passion and we are looking forward to launching this important story with them.”
No official release or streaming date has been confirmed for the film, but in the meantime, you can read The Survivor‘s official synopsis down below:
The Survivor is based on the incredible true story of Harry Haft, who, after being sent to Auschwitz, survives not only the unspeakable horrors of the camp, but the gladiatorial boxing spectacle he is forced to perform with his fellow prisoners for the amusement of his captors. Unbeknownst to those who try to destroy him, Haft is driven by the most important reason any man has to survive, a quest to reunite with the woman he loves. After a daring escape, he makes his way to New York, where he succeeds in using his boxing skills to establish a name for himself in the hopes of finding his one true love. His indomitable spirit lands him in 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.
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Ben Foster’s Boxing Biopic Acquired by HBO