'Whitney' Director Kevin Macdonald Teaming With U.K.'s Channel 4 on Lockerbie Bombing Drama (Exclusive)

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Kevin Macdonald

The Oscar winner had been working on a film about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and the conspiracies behind it, but has now turned to the small screen.

Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald, whose latest film Whitney bowed in Cannes to critical acclaim, has teamed up with British network Channel 4 on a drama series based around the 1988 Lockerbie, Scotland, bombing and the alleged conspiracy around it, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. 

The filmmaker — whose credits include The Last King of Scotland and the Academy Award-winning documentary One Day in September, about the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics — has been working on a project about the terrorist attack for some time alongside playwright David Harrower.

Last year, it was reported that the project would be a feature film, charting the events from Dec. 21, 1988, when flight Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up midair on its way from London to the U.S. over the Scottish village of Lockerbie, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew, alongside 11 more people on the ground, right up to the present day with relatives of the victims still campaigning for justice. 

"It’s one of those subjects that is fascinating and we’ve been trying to figure out how to tell the story," Macdonald tells THR. "But I think we’ve figured it out. And we've decided to turn it into TV, as is the way of the moment."

Thirty years on, the terror attack still remains the most deadly —  and one of the most controversial — on British soil. Although late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the bombing, with intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi imprisoned for life in 2001 (he was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds and died three years later of cancer), many claim the country was framed. Among the various theories is that Iran was behind the bombing, acting in response to the U.S.' shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 in July 1988, which killed all 290 people on board. 

While there have been several documentaries about the Lockerbie disaster, Macdonald's project — which THR understands is in late development at Channel 4 — would be the first drama. In 2014, acclaimed Irish director Jim Sheridan announced to THR that he was developing a film about the aftermath of the incident with Irish screenwriter Audrey O’Reilly that would focus on justice campaigner Jim Swire, an English doctor whose daughter Flora was among the victims. However, this project has since gone quiet. 

In Cannes, Macdonald unveiled Whitney, an emotional and revelatory documentary about the tragic life and death of Whitney Houston, to rave reviews. THR described it as a "haunting, richly contextualized documentary portrait."