During today’s panel at the Television Critics Association presentation, Disney unveiled some exciting new content from their upcoming releases under every brand, which means that we also got to hear some news from the upcoming drama series A Small Light. Inspired by one of World War II’s most famous stories, the limited series chronicles the tense period during which Anne Frank and her family stayed hidden as they tried to escape being sent to Nazi concentration camps.
During the event, Disney revealed a behind-the-scenes featurette that showed series director Susanna Fogel (The Flight Attendant) talking about her approach to the series. The director comments that there are some stories which are so famous and entangled in modern culture that we assume we know everything about them. That’s why she decided to tell A Small Light from another point of view – through the eyes of Miep Gies (Bel Powley), a young girl and the secretary of Otto Frank (Liev Schreiber) who agreed to hide his entire family, asking for nothing in return, and putting her own life at risk.
At the same time, the series will chronicle Miep’s story, which will highlight other themes, including what was it like being a young woman during Hitler’s era. The series will also make the point that you don’t need to be extraordinary in order to perform an act of kindness, especially during terrifying times – and for Miep it was even more demanding, since at the time it was expected that she explained her decisions to her husband. During the clip, lead actor Powley talks about what arcs her character goes through:
“What you’ve got to remember is that even though these big historical moments were going on, Miep’s marriage problems weren’t going to wait until the war was over. Experiencing going from a girl to a woman wasn’t going to wait until the war was over. Tony and Joan [showrunners] really have really captured that brilliantly, the humanity of the situation, the realness of what these people were actually going through.”
The featurette also reveals that production was filmed on location outside the Frank apartment, in order for the cast and crew to take in that environment and the energy that it exhales, and so that they could do their very best to honor the memories of the people whose stories they are telling.
A Small Light’s title comes from a quote from the main character Miep Gies, who said of her time spent assisting the Franks, “I don’t like being called a hero because no one should ever think you have to be special to help others. Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can turn on a small light in a dark room.” The experience is what prompted the young Anne Frank to write her diaries while in hiding, which then were published to become one of World War II’s most famous accounts of those terrible times.
The series also stars Ashley Brooke as Margot Frank, Rudi Goodman as Peter van Pels, Billie Boullet as Anne Frank, Amira Casar as Edith Frank, Caroline Catz as Mrs. van Pels, Noah Taylor as Dr. Pfeffer, Joe Cole as Jan Gies, and Andy Nyman as Mr. van Pels.
National Geographic is yet to reveal a release window for A Small Light’s episodes. You can watch the featurette below: