NOAH MEDIA GROUP WILL CO-PRODUCE THE DOCUMENTARY AS THE FIRST FEATURE IN THEIR PARTNERSHIP WITH SKY STUDIOS & SKY ITALIA.
5th November 2021, London: After recently announcing a multi-title development deal, Noah Media Group & Sky Studios have today revealed the details of an upcoming feature documentary centred around the captivating and tragic story of Formula One legends, Gilles Villeneuve & Didier Pironi, in collaboration with Sky Italia.
The film focuses on the infamous 1982 F1 season, where the two rival Ferrari teammates had both the talent and the car to win the World Title. However, one of the most controversial moments in the history of the sport would set in motion a chain of events that meant neither would be able to realize that dream.
On the final laps of the Italian Grand Prix, Pironi passed Villeneuve to win the race. To Didier this was a racing move. To Gilles, it was an unexpected act that went completely against the team orders he thought both drivers were obeying. It became known as “The Betrayal”. The two racers would never speak again.
‘Villeneuve & Pironi’ will tell the astonishing story of two supremely gifted Ferrari F1 drivers, forever torn apart by a historic and hugely controversial moment in time. Friendship, duplicity, ambition and honour all collide at racing speeds in this epic story that reads like a Shakespearean tale and which will be told, for the very first time, by those who were closest to the men involved.
Two generations of both families will contribute to the film: Gilles’ children Melanie Villeneuve and former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve; and Didier’s children, who were named after the two drivers, Gilles Pironi and Didier Pironi. Leading contributions will also come from the two partners of the drivers, Gilles’ wife Joann Villeneuve, and Didier’s partner, Catherine Goux. The film will also feature some of the biggest names in Formula One history.
Production has now commenced ahead of a planned late 2022 release, with filming locations including the UK, Canada, France and Italy. The film will be directed by Torquil Jones (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager), and produced by John McKenna (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Finding Jack Charlton) as well as former Formula One driver Mark Webber. The film will premiere on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW in the UK, Italy and Germany. NBCUniversal Global Distribution will handle international sales of the documentary on behalf of Sky Studios.
Joann Villeneuve, wife of the late Gilles Villeneuve, reveals: ‘My family and I are pleased to participate in the making of the documentary “Villeneuve & Pironi”. This period in time and these events were traumatic for our family and, after more than 40 years, still remain very emotional. Having been a privileged witness to these events, it is important that this story be told with respect. We are looking forward to working with Noah Media Group, who we know are committed to telling this story in the right way.’
Catherine Goux, partner of the late Didier Pironi, adds: ‘My children and I are delighted to take part in this film together with the Villeneuve family. We have no doubt that Noah Media Group and its director Torquil are the best in class in what they do. We are looking forward to the world learning more about the two incredible men that were Gilles and Didier, but also for a new generation to discover this unique and inspiring story that reaches beyond the sport itself.”
Gilles Villeneuve - charismatic and opinionated, the Canadian had risen from humble roots to realise his dream to race Formula One. Naturally talented, Villeneuve’s fearless racing style delighted the sport’s purists and captured the imagination of fans worldwide. The beloved ‘surrogate son’ of the legendary Enzo Ferrari, by the early 1980s Gilles appeared destined to dominate F1 for the famous Italian team.
Didier Pironi - dashing, focused and well-educated, the Frenchman was born into a successful industrial family. But any future in business would be overtaken by his passion for racing to win. By the early 1980s, Pironi was a French pin-up, after winning the Le Mans 24-hour race. Ferrari hand-picked him to join Villeneuve and their team in Formula One – a defining moment for Didier.
Producer & Noah CEO John McKenna said of the announcement: ‘We are extremely privileged and grateful to both the Villeneuve and Pironi families for putting their trust in Noah Media Group to tell this truly remarkable story of two incredible men. This will be a film with huge emotion and drama at its heart and we believe it will be the perfect start to our relationship with Sky Studios.’
Sky Studios Director of Factual, Barney Shingleton added: “It is fantastic to see our partnership with Noah Media bearing fruit with such an exceptional film, and I hope that this is the first of many premium documentaries we can bring to Sky’s European customers.”
Roberto Pisoni, Sky Italia Director of Entertainment Channels, declared: "We are happy to announce this beautiful project, together with Noah and Sky Studios, which tells the human and sports story that still today, after almost 40 years, remains one of the most controversial and passionate moments in the history of Formula 1. With ‘Villeneuve & Pironi’, thanks to the exclusive contribution of those who were closest to the drivers, we tell the story of two great champions, whose relationship was pushed to the limit, on and off the track.”