Manks Productions to produce The Polished Hoe for TV

The script for the award-winning novel by Austin Clarke (pictured) is being produced and written by James Russell and directed by Dawn Wilkinson.
AustinClarke-2 -David Middleton

Canadian author Austin Clarke’s award-winning, bestselling novel The Polished Hoe is set to hit TV screens.

Toronto-based Manks Productions has acquired exclusive television rights to adapt the novel for the small screen, with James Russell producing and writing the script, and Dawn Wilkinson directing.

The Polished Hoe, set in 1952 in the fictitious Bimshire Islands, tells the story of a woman who confesses to the murder of the wealthy plantation owner she worked for. As her life experiences living in a society characterized by colonialism and slavery are revealed, so too are her motives for the murder.

Russell says it was the story the attracted him most to the idea of adapting the novel for screen.

“It’s a wonderful character study,” he tells Playback Daily.

“It’s such an honest story about a black woman who has survived terrible ordeals over the years, who has grown and become such a strong figure and a leader in her community,” he adds.

Wilkinson, who grew up biracial in small town Ontario, agrees, adding that the rich historical context makes it perfect for TV.

“This story is well known, but it hasn’t been well documented on television, and definitely not in fiction. There still haven’t been many movies with the subject made for TV,” she tells Playback Daily.

Russell and Wilkinson will be adding more producers to the production to make funding, which they plan to seek through Astral’s Harold Greenberg Fund, easier to obtain.

They’re hoping to reel in Yanna McIntosh, who has been on stage at Stratford, on the small screen and on the big screen alongside Denzel Washington in John Q, to play the lead.

Their aim is to begin production in February 2013, with interiors being shot in Toronto, and exteriors in Jamaica or Barbados.

Russell says he is looking at Entertainment One as a potential distributor.