With the success of Captain Phillips, megaproducer Scott Rudin has sprung for another docudrama – optioning the film rights to Five Days At Memorial, written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sheri Frank. Published only last month, the true-story is rising fast on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Sheri Frank (who is also a physician) collected thousands of hours of firsthand testimony from survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Memorial Medical Center Hospital.
In 2005, staff members at Memorial were faced with an unprecedented crisis beyond the scope of training or experience. The devastating hurricane caused the facility to lose all power ( including back-up). With no help or support from the hospital owners, decisions had to be made. Patients not expected to survive were designated last for rescue, and as the waters rose and the heat became more intense, some were (allegedly) intentionally hastened to their deaths with morphine overdoses. A doctor and two nurses are currently fighting prosecution for the homicide of 20 patients.
No director or screenwriter is on board yet, but one can only surmise that docudrama director Paul Greengrass (United 93 and the current Captain Phillips) is on the shortlist to help the project. Greengrass would seem to be available, having just exited the Dreamworks production of the Trial Of The Chicago 7 over budget differences.
Greengrass has a distinctive style suited for real world situations. He uses hand-held cameras for an urgent pseudo-documentary style authenticity. His carefully staged reconstruction techniques puts the audience smack in the middle of the action and drama.
Scott Rudin will produce along with Eli Bush (Frances Ha, Moonrise Kingdom).