Polar Peak Productions to develop international dramatisation based on ‘Six Years With Al Qaeda’

The Swedish production company Polar Peak Productions has optioned Six Years With Al Qaeda: The Stephen McGown Story in a deal brokered by Catrina Wessels on behalf of Maverick 451, the book publishing division of Daily Maverick.

Polar Peak intends to produce a dramatised adaptation based on the gripping account of the capture and captivity of Stephen McGown, along with two other captives who would collectively become known as the Timbuktu Three, by members of Al Qaeda in 2011.

“The hardships and experiences during Stephen McGown’s captivity are at the core,” says Mr Sune Nises of Polar Peak.

“The story is layered with the personal fears, the doubts, the reflections, and the determination of someone who is caught in this situation. It is about a man who learns to know and understand the individuals, the culture and the religion of his kidnappers, and the despair and the forces that drew them to action. In this, there is a story of special importance, as we see it, in today´s polarised social climate.

It is set against the backdrop of big geopolitical, religious-cultural, and military conflicts. The behind-the-doors diplomacy is by itself dramatic.”

Polar Peak Productions has partnered up with The Film Factory for production in South Africa. “The Film Factory and Danie Bester are well-established partners, with a solid track record,” says Nises. Among other things, they produced Toorbos, based on the novel by Dalene Matthee, which was South Africa’s official submission to the 2021 Academy Awards. 

“This is an amazing story to dramatise,” says producer Danie Bester of The Film Factory. “Under the most uncertain circumstances, it is a story of human conviction and the power of hope.”

Six Years With Al Qaeda has seen numerous reprints since its first publication in November 2020. In 2021, it won the SABA (SA Booksellers’ Assocation Award) in the nonfiction category. The winner of this industry award is selected by booksellers from a shortlist of strongest selling titles of the year.

Little, Brown acquired world English (excluding SA) rights and published the book under the title Six Years A Hostage in 2021.

Translation rights are available.

Please direct rights queries to catrina@catrinawessels.com.

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