‘The topic will resonate due to the international awareness of and involvement in the war in Iraq’

Distributor Newen Connect
Producer Mandarin Télévision
Length 6 x 52 minutes
Broadcasters Amazon France; France Télévisions

Set in the lead-up to the Battle of Mosul in 2016, when Iraqi and international forces were preparing to wrestle the city back from ISIL (ISIS), Dark Hearts is the first series to focus on the French special operations forces.

The six-parter follows an elite unit that captures and strikes a high-stakes deal with a high-ranking jihadi in Iraq. In exchange for information about ISIL’s strategy, they take on a mission to get his daughter and grandson out of Mosul and away from her dangerous warlord husband.

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Dark Hearts is “rooted in explosive action” but stands out for its realism, according to executive vice-president of distribution at Newen Connect Leona Connell.

“The producers and actors spent a lot of time with the French military, and the elite soldiers who have been on special missions, to understand how they go about these operations,” she says. “It’s not just about how the missions are carried out; it’s about the physical and emotional pressures of being in hostile terrain and away from loved ones, and how they feel about living through extreme circumstances.”

The realism is strengthened by “great character writing” from Corinne Garfin (The Bureau), whose script “seduced” Newen immediately. It is directed by Ziad Doueiri (Inhuman Resources), which adds “a touch of gloss”, according to Connell.

Unlike many on-screen depictions of Iraq, Dark Hearts is told largely from a female perspective, with well-known French actors Marie Dompnier (Witnesses) and Nina Meurisse (Mixte) playing a female intelligence officer and a sniper. Other high-profile actors include Nicolas Duvauchelle (Gone For Good) and Thierry Godard (Spiral).

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Set to air on public service broadcaster France Télévisions and Amazon Prime Video France, Connell expects global interest across different types of channels and platforms.

“The series is broad enough to work for free TV and premium enough to work for paid TV, and the topic will resonate due to the international awareness of and involvement in the war in Iraq,” she says.

“It won’t matter that it is from the angle of military forces from one country because, ultimately, it is a fantastic story about characters who put their lives in jeopardy.”