PBS International has licensed the upcoming Ken Burns and Lynn Novick docuseries focusing on acclaimed and controversial author Ernest Hemingway to multiple international broadcasters in advance of its premiere via PBS in the U.S. on April 5.
The six-part Hemingway has been picked up by the BBC in the United Kingdom, RAI in Italy, YLE in Finland, NRK in Norway, and Sky Network Television in New Zealand, with more buyers also signing on, according to the distributor.
With this July marking the 60th anniversary of his death at his own hand, the docuseries weaves biographical elements with excerpts from his fiction, non-fiction and short stories, and includes interviews with celebrated writers, scholars and Hemingway’s son, Patrick. Actors including Jeff Daniels, Meryl Streep and others provide voices for various figures in the story. The film was written by Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Sarah Botstein, longtime collaborators of Burns and Novick.
“Hemingway is both an intimate, turbulent family saga and an examination of some of the greatest works of literature in the 20th century,” said director Ken Burns in a statement. “We are unsparing in our inquiry into less well-known aspects of his character and writing. Our intent is to offer viewers an honest portrayal of a complex and conflicted writer who left an indelible mark on literature.”
During a keynote interview at the virtual Realscreen Summit last month, Novick further elaborated on how the filmmakers approached the more problematic aspects of Hemingway’s life story.
“He’s a man of his time, and you can’t change the times and you can’t change him,” Novick said. “He’s a very troubled person ultimately — he struggles with mental illness, he struggles with addiction, he struggles with depression. So, this age-old question about the art and the artist — that’s not unique to Hemingway, we can think about a lot of other artists that are struggling with these same questions.”
The three-part series runs on PBS from April 5-7.
(With files from Kim Izzo)