Ireland’s RTÉ has unveiled the first fruits of its copro deal with European pubcaster ARTE.
The religious doc, Countdown to Calvary, also marks its first ever copro with American Public Television (APT).
The 60-minute one-off is slated to premiere during Easter 2018 and will be presented by Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville (pictured). In the program, the actor, who has a Cambridge University degree in theology, travels to Jerusalem to tell the story of the last six days of Jesus’ life.
Countdown to Calvary, shot in 4K, combines Bonneville’s exploration with a countdown-style narrative and, according to the broadcaster, reveals how a “perfect storm of social, political and religious factors” brought Jesus into conflict with the most powerful forces in his world and led, over the course of six days, to his death.
APT will retain U.S. public broadcasting rights to the doc and will distribute the film under the title Jesus – Countdown to Calvary.
Outside the U..S, RTÉ program sales will distribute Countdown to Calvary, which launches internationally at MIPCOM 2017 with distributor TVCO creating and marketing a version for Italian-speaking territories.
ARTE will broadcast versions in French and German, with further translations to follow in Spanish and Polish via its non-linear digital platform, arte.tv.
In November 2016, RTÉ and ARTE signed a new agreement intended to bring Irish cultural content brought to international audiences. Both parties agreed to contribute a minimum of €250,000 (US$293,985) annually for an initial period of two years to the development of copros in 2017 and 2018, with a focus on documentary, arts, culture, factual, history and natural history.
“We are very happy to have been able to coproduce this first high-end documentary within the framework of our coproduction agreement with RTÉ,” said Madeleine Avramoussis, coordinator of European co-productions at ARTE, in a statement. “Combining Hugh Bonneville’s charismatic personality and his erudition on such an essential topic as the last days of Jesus, wrapped into a thriller, will provide our European audience with the sort of quality program that we very much look forward to showing.”