“The payoff is so satisfying,” SundanceTV president and GM Sarah Barnett tells TheWrap about the miniseries starring Maggie Gyllenhaal
Hugo Blick wants viewers to know that “The Honorable Woman,” which he wrote and directed for co-producers BBC and SundanceTV, will reward its patient and dedicated viewers.
“I have a meditative pace,” Blick told TheWrap when asked about the way he disperses information in “The Honorable Woman.” “The type of filmmakers I have loved in the past are people like John Boorman of ‘Point Blank,’ and Carol Reed of ‘Odd Man Out.'”
“The Honorable Woman” stars Maggie Gyllenhaal in the impeccably acted role of Nessa Stein, who runs her assassinated father's company, which previously sold arms to Israel. Under her leadership, it's now lying down cables in order to create an internet infrastructure, thus connection and communication, between Israel and Palestine instead of weapons. She must navigate through a complicated web of family, business colleagues, competitors and politicians to complete the job.
Episode 4 is a major part of the story,” Blick revealed. “Episodes 1 to 3 show a number of things, [Nessa] is in shock. The first three episodes show that shock. Episode 4, we reveal what that shock is about. In the UK, the revelation and timing of that revelation makes a really unique experience. The viewers and the audience are going to say, “Oh, I understand it now, I get it.” It progresses for the rest of the series on the consequence of that revelation.”
The pacing of “The Honorable Woman” may feel slow for today's audience, who seem to have one hand on the remote control and a need to flip the channel at every commercial break. But, SundanceTV prides itself on letting artists do what they do best.
“Do we like to ask our audience to scratch their heads? It goes quite beyond that,” SundanceTV's president and general manager, Sarah Barnett, told TheWrap.
“I think there's an enormous appetite and a growing appetite for terrific content,” she continued. “And so long as it's entertaining and well-written and well-done, I think audiences are increasingly so smart as it relates to television. And I think audiences really love those shows that are pushing the edge of TV and experimenting somewhat, I don't mean being totally avant garde, but I do mean, maybe, pushing the edge of the rhythm of storytelling or setting shows in worlds that haven't been seen before that feel edgy and dangerous or asking an audience to go with you on a thrilling ride where there are so many complicated layers to the storytelling. But, the payoff is so satisfying.”
The timing of the miniseries, as tension in the Gaza Strip has intensified, makes the program very topical. Early episodes play out the politics and relationships between Israel, Palestine and the UK, but did SundanceTV ask Blick to include an American point of view for its viewers, so that they feel more connected?
“‘We're not the kind of network that's going to say to a creator, ‘Can you moderate this or that in a plot type of way?'” said Barnett.
Blick, on the other hand, said we again should have some patience.
“I only ask you to watch the whole series,” Blick said. “This is what's difficult for a mini-series. You go to a movie and you see it all in one sitting and you are going to understand everything they created. On this story you are going to have to watch it in bits … You wont feel that America is uninvolved in this story by the end of this miniseries. They come in thick and fast and right to the top of politics.”
“The Honorable Woman” premieres Thursday at 10/9c on SundanceTV.
Watch a trailer for the show below: