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Los Angeles, U.S.A. — Production has begun in South Africa and North Carolina on the HBO Films presentation ‘Mary and Martha,’ starring Hilary Swank (Oscar winner for ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’) and Brenda Blethyn (Oscar nominee for ‘Secrets & Lies’ and ‘Little Voice’), it was announced July 16 by Len Amato, president, HBO Films.
Directed by Phillip Noyce (‘Salt,’ ‘The Quiet American’) from a screenplay written by Richard Curtis (Oscar nominee for ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral,’ Emmy winner for HBO’s ‘The Girl in the Café’), ‘Mary and Martha’ depicts the epic journey of two mothers who bond over the mutual loss of their sons to malaria. James Woods, Frank Grillo, Ian Redford and Stephanie Faracy also star.
“We were especially attracted to Richard Curtis’ approach to the story – bringing a human touch to this serious and often overlooked issue about a disease that is preventable and can be eradicated,” said Amato. “In the hands of Philip Noyce, directing these two gifted actresses, the difficult subject matter becomes upliftingly accessible, yet profoundly powerful.”
Hilary Swank stars as Mary and Brenda Blethyn stars as Martha, an American and an Englishwoman who have little in common apart from the one thing they wish they hadn’t – both have lost sons to malaria. Promising adventure and fun, Mary took her young son, George, to Africa, where he subsequently contracted the disease, while Martha’s son, Ben, died while working as a volunteer at an orphanage in Mozambique.
When the two immensely different women meet in Africa, they bond over their shared personal loss. Forging a deep friendship, they vow to dedicate themselves to the cause of malaria prevention, realizing that, as mothers, they have a responsibility to all the world’s children.
Says writer Richard Curtis, “I’ve always wanted to write a film about the fact that when you have children, there’s always the possibility of extreme joy and extreme sorrow. And over the years, working with Comic Relief, I have come across the tragedy of the startling number of lives taken by malaria every year. This film gives me achance to write about that too, as well as working with a team of people I hugely admire – Brenda Blethyn, Hilary Swank and the great Australian director, Phillip Noyce.”
‘Mary and Martha’ is an HBO Films Presentation of a WTTV Working Title Television Production, in association with BBC and NBC Universal; executive produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin and Juliette Howell; produced by Genevieve Hofmeyr and Hilary Bevan Jones; director, Phillip Noyce; screenplay written by Richard Curtis.