Oscar-nominated actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh is in negotiations to direct and star as Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank in Fox Searchlight’s drama KEEPER OF THE DIARY, the Tracking Board has learned.
Publicists for Branagh told the Tracking Board on Friday afternoon that they were having trouble reaching his managers, and an hour later, the story broke on Deadline. A representative for Fox Searchlight did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Keeper of the Diary chronicles Otto Frank’s struggle to find a publisher for his daughter’s diary, which became one of the enduring documents of the Holocaust. Only one woman was willing to help him change the world — an ambitious young editor named Barbara Zimmerman, who went on to become a publishing legend at Doubleday and the founder of the New York Review of Books.
Sam Franco and Evan Kilgore wrote the script on spec, and Fox Searchlight acquired the project in a bidding war. The film will be produced by Matti Leshem and Lynn Harris under their Weimaraner Republic Pictures banner, while Branagh is also expected to produce with Judy Hofflund once his deal closes.
The film is a passion project for the producers, as Leshem lost his grandmother in the Holocaust and his father is a survivor. Meanwhile, Branagh narrated the documentary Anne Frank Remembered, so the story is clearly near and dear to his heart as well. The filmmaker just worked with 20th Century Fox on Murder on the Orient Express, which must’ve come out well if Fox Searchlight is hiring him for a prestige picture like The Keeper of the Diary.
On the acting side, Branagh next stars in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and he can also be seen playing himself in the comedy Mindhorn, which just debuted on Netflix on Friday. He’s represented by WME, Berwick & Kovacik and Gochman Law Group.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief