David Chariandy's novel Brother optioned for film with Clement Virgo at the helm

Variety reports that Toronto production companies Conquering Lion and Hawkeye Pictures picked up the rights and announced the deal on the opening day of the Toronto International Film Festival.
David Chariandy won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for his novel Brother. (Joy Van Tiedemann/McClelland & Stewart)

The film and television rights for David Chariandy's award-winning novel Brother have been picked up by Toronto production companies Conquering Lion and Hawkeye Pictures, with Clement Virgo attached to adapt the screenplay and direct the film, Variety reports.

Chariandy's novel, which won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, is about the lives of brothers Michael and Francis, raised by a single mother in a heavily policed neighbourhood within Scarborough, Ont. The book is rooted in Chariandy's own coming of age as a person of colour in Canada in the early 1990s.

Virgo has experience bringing Canadian literature to the screen, having directed Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes into an award-winning CBC-TV miniseries. His other film credits include directing episodes of The Wire, American Crime and Empire, and serving as supervising director and executive producer with Oprah Winfrey on the drama series Greenleaf.

Virgo told Variety that his personal history in Toronto will serve him well in this new project.

"Growing up poor in Toronto's Regent Park in the 1980s to Jamaican immigrant parents, I relate on a personal level to the characters and how the world sees you as a young Black man," said Virgo. "I'm excited to dive into adapting and directing such a personal story."