Primo: a unique drama for BBC Four
BBC Drama today announces Primo, a film for television starring Antony Sher, which he has adapted from Primo Levi's account of his time in Auschwitz in his book If This Is A Man.
It will transmit on BBC Four on Thursday 20 September 2007.
The film, produced by Rainmark Films, is a version of Antony Sher's award-winning monologue stage play and is directed by its stage director, and well known actor, Richard Wilson.
The film bears first hand witness to the 24-year-old Levi's arrest, and detention in Auschwitz.
In 1943 Levi, a member of a Resistance group in northern Italy, was captured by the fascist militia and sent with 649 other Italian Jews to the Monowitz camp in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in Poland. Levi was one of only three of these 650 who survived.
The Nazis soon turned the new camp inmates into demoralised and expendable slaves who were worked remorselessly until they were ready to be disposed of in the gas chambers and crematoria. They were broken by hunger, the cold, disease and terror.
After Levi had spent one year in Monowitz, however, the rapid advance of the Red Army caused a hasty evacuation of the camp. Twenty thousand "healthy'' prisoners - those capable of walking and working - were force-marched to further slavery in Germany.
Almost none survived the trek.
Levi, fortuitously stricken with scarlet fever, was one of 800 ill prisoners left to die. Five hundred did so before the Russians arrived and 200 died immediately after, beyond the assistance of Russian and Polish medical help.
Primo is produced by Ann Wingate and Executive Produced by Frank Doelger and Tracey Scoffield for Rainmark Films and Richard Fell for the BBC.
Primo was commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction, and is a BBC/HBO co-production.
The transmission of Primo marks the 40th anniversary year of the publication of If This Is A Man by Primo Levi.
Primo follows in the rich footsteps of BBC Four drama including the award-winning Fantabulosa starring Michael Sheen, The Alan Clark Diaries starring John Hurt, Fear Of Fanny starring Julia Davis and Marie Lloyd starring Jessie Wallace.