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A feature-length documentary examining the life and times of Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell is in the works from U.K. network Channel 4 and Roast Beef Productions, the Oscar-nominated banner behind such films as The Square, Hell and Back Again and Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.
Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell? is being directed by BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Erica Gornall (Saudi Women’s Driving School) and marks the first major project from multi-award-winning U.K. TV veteran Dorothy Byrne (Leaving Neverland, For Sama) since stepping down as Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs last year.
Set to include interviews with Maxwell’s friends, lovers, colleagues, rivals and confidants, many of who producers say haven’t spoken publicly before, the film will chronicle her growing up in Oxford as the daughter of notorious media tycoon and fraudster Robert Maxwell, her life in London, and then her reinvention in New York, before meeting Epstein and becoming, according to Byrne, “perhaps the most controversial woman in America at the moment.”
Maxwell — as the alleged procuress for Epstein — faces trial later this year on charges of sex trafficking and involvement in the abuse of underage girls, charges that could see her jailed for decades.
“Rarely does a woman face the heinous charges to which Ghislaine Maxwell must answer in a New York court this summer,” said Byrne. “She was the golden child of the notorious fraudster Robert Maxwell, his Lady Ghislaine. An Oxford graduate, a socialite across two continents who became the associate of the notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and then founded a charity to save the oceans. A woman of many faces who has lived several different lives. But who is Ghislaine Maxwell really and what does her story tell us about high society in London and New York?”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Byrne added the aim of the film was to “put together exclusive journalism, using our abilities of investigative journalists, with documentary filmmaking skills to produce a proper biographical portrait of somebody who, on the face of it, seems incomprehensible to people.”
Roast Beef Production’s Mike Lerner revealed that Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? will examine the huge impact of Robert Maxwell — who famously owned The Mirror tabloid newspaper in the U.K. —and his shocking death in 1991 (he fell overboard his yacht in Atlantic).
“You cannot look at her life without examining his death, because his death and the revelations about his criminality meant that she went from being the daughter of a supposed billionaire to returning to more normal financial circumstances,” he said. “And I think it is absolutely key.”
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? is being produced by Byrne, Lerner and Katherine Haywood, with Channel 4’s Fozia Khan as commissioning editor.
“There are likely to be numerous programs made about the Maxwells but this film focuses on the much-loved daughter whose charm, influence and family name was used in the most powerful circles over decades,” said Danny Horan, Channel 4’s head of factual.
“This investigation seeks to uncover her role in one of the world’s most prominent current scandals. This exploration of Ghislaine’s life will include revelatory brand new testimony from those who knew her best. Shedding light on how and why, despite the rumors, she was able to sustain her privileged lifestyle for such a long time.”
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? joins a bustling market for content on Epstein’s former girlfriend. Just last month a scripted series was announced from the Sony Pictures Television-backed Eleventh Hour Films based on the popular podcast Hunting Ghislaine.
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