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Sophie Toscan du Plantier: Two documentary series, from Jim Sheridan and Netflix, expected next year

Both the Netflix series and the Sky Studios documentary were announced today.

Image: Courant/YouTube

TWO DOCUMENTARY SERIES about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996 are to be released by Netflix and Sky Studios next year.

The Netflix documentary is a three-part series, while the Sky Studios series ’Murder at the Cottage: The search for justice for Sophie’ is a five-part series directed by Jim Sheridan.

Two days before Christmas in 1996, 39-year-old Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found murdered outside her holiday cottage in Schull, west Cork.

English journalist Ian Bailey – the first reporter on the scene – was arrested and questioned by Gardaí, but was never charged or faced trial in Ireland. He has maintained his innocence for the past 24 years.

The murder has remained unsolved, and has prompted podcasts, inspired books, and been at the centre of the media for over two decades.

Bailey was found guilty in absentia by the French courts in 2019 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Having successfully fought three extradition requests by the French authorities, he still lives in west Cork.

The Irish government has said that the State would not appeal the Irish High Courts’ refusal to extradite Bailey to France.

‘Murder at the Cottage: The search for justice for Sophie’

This is the first documentary series by Sheridan, a six-time Oscar nominee of films such as ‘My Left Foot’, and ‘In The Name of the Father’.

‘Murder at the Cottage: The search for justice for Sophie’, features “access” to Sophie’s family and Ian Bailey. The series is expected to air on Sky Crime next year.

Sheridan narrates the documentary and appears on-screen.

Murder at the Cottage - Jim Sheridan. Courtesy of Sky Studios (1) Source: Sky Studios

The press release sent this morning states: “The series pieces together original evidence, never-before-seen footage and interviews with those closest to the case as Sheridan tries to make sense of what happened that night; all set against the rural landscapes and wilderness of his home country.” 

Director and producer Sheridan said that this story “has fascinated me for over two decades”.

It is a murder that carries implications for the meaning of justice in Ireland, in France and in the UK. It is a murder that calls into question the meaning of Europe, as the convicted man in France is free in Ireland.
It is a story that calls into question the meaning and process of the police and the legal system. It is a story that shines a light on domestic violence. It is a story about primal fear. About a devil in the hills. About the existence of evil among us.

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“I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this series, but in particular to Sophie’s family who are still searching for justice,” he said.

The Netflix documentary

the-village-of-schull The village of Schull, west Cork. Source: PA

This Netflix series will be produced by Lightbox and claims to have “exclusive access” to Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family and will “bring together the testimony of her entire family with that of Ian Bailey”.

A press release sent this afternoon said:

The series charts the story of Sophie’s life and rigorously details the investigation into her death, exposing the enduring mysteries and questions at the heart of this case. 

John Dower is the director of this series. His previous work includes ‘My Scientology Movie’, and ‘Thriller in Manilla’, which won many awards including a Grierson and a Peabody.

Simon Chinn, the executive producer co-founder of Lightbox said: “This series will take viewers on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns as we carefully unravel an extraordinary story from its beginning, 24 years ago, to the present day.

As the only documentary project ever to have been made with the blessing of Sophie’s family, we feel it’s critical to properly understand who Sophie was as a person and the events that led her to her terrible fate.

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