Joining a pack of film-makers taking on the same ambitious material, the UK's FilmFour is tackling two historical subjects of world-wide renown - Che Guevara and the Borgias.
FilmFour's Che will focus on the relationship between Guevara and Fidel Castro, ranging from the Cuban revolutionary's rise to power to his death in Bolivia as took the revolution to Latin America. Ronan Bennett, the UK writer behind FilmFour's highly-anticipated Peter Cattaneo film Lucky Break, is writing a script after meetings with Guevara's widow and close friends.
FilmFour's Elinor Day aims for The Borgias to represent a modern update on the infamously excessive Italian family that put the R rating into Renaissance - "looking at dynasties we know these days like the Kennedies". Written by Bryan Elsley, writer of UK TV drama series The Crow Road, the Dragon Pictures production will focus on the brother and sister relationship in the family, which produced two popes along with charges of incestuous relations and an orgy at the Vatican.
FilmFour is currently backing its biggest projects to date, including the just wrapped Charlotte Gray, as well as in-development titles such as Iain Softley's Henry & Anne. "We're in the business of making international films," Day said. "These are projects which feel cinematic and can travel."
The Borgias will jockey with the rival Lucrezia project being set up at DreamWorks SKG by UK-based director Neil Jordan and producing partner Stephen Woolley and the US' ImageMovers. Meanwhile, Mick Jagger and Robert Redford's Wildwood Enterprises have separate Che projects. Redford's £40m project reportedly has Benicio Del Toro and director Walter Salles attached and is based on the Motorcycle Diaries that the young Guevara kept on a tour of South America. Jagger purportedly wants Antonio Banderas to star as Che in a story about a love affair between the revolutionary and an East German spy.