Is ‘Nowhere Special’ based on a true story?

Nowhere Special 

Nowhere Special is a sad but hopeful film about a man who discovers he only has a few months left to live. Before his time is up, he goes in search of a new home and family for Michael, his three-year-old son, while trying to shield his son from the terrible reality of the situation.

The film, by director Uberto Pasolini (Still Life), stars James Norton (Happy Valley) as the doting father who does all he can to provide for his little boy (Daniel Lamont). 

On Nowhere Special’s original release in the UK in 2021, critics praised the film for its tender and poignant story and the wonderful performances of its main cast. 

After a three-year delay, Nowhere Special will be screened in US theatres on 26 April 2024. 

Upon seeing the film, and once you have dried away your tears, you might be curious to know if Nowhere Special is based on a true story. 

Here’s what we know:

Is Nowhere Special based on a true story?

Yes, Nowhere Special is based on a true story, though the identity of the real-life father and son has been kept hidden. 

Pasolini was inspired to make his film after reading a newspaper article about a single father who, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, was forced to find a foster home for his 4-year-old son before he died. 

In an interview, he said it wasn’t the text in the article in that inspired him. Rather, it was the photograph within the story which “was a demonstration of enormous love and intensity and the importance of love.”

Pasolini went on to say:

“In this case, as you know, the mother of the child had decided to leave the family, very early on. And the father spent the rest of his life completely dedicated to this young boy. It’s very moving. It’s very powerful. I’m sure both parents would behave in a similar way, but this was a concrete example of paternal love. And looking at his photograph, I was looking in his eyes, throughout my writing in my research, and so I became very close in a funny way without ever meeting them.”

Like James Norton’s character in the film, the father was looking for the “perfect family” for his son. When discussing this, Pasolini said:

“The father had been a perfect father, was a wonderful father. And so, he was involved in this choice, and this looking for the “perfect family” in a way; it’s a very, very rare occurrence. But because he was the father, the meetings between potential adopters and the child, and the father is much more intense…

…In order to fill that in, I needed to talk to many people who had been there, or even who had been involved, to try and guess how these meetings could have actually happened.

I tried to connect with social workers who dealt with the specific case. For privacy reasons, they couldn’t tell me anything more than was in the newspaper. And, in a way, that was liberating because it allowed me to explore things that might not have happened specifically to this couple and put in some of my experience of parenthood, my experience of being a father.” (source)

If, after seeing the film, you are inspired to become a foster carer or adoptive parent yourself, be sure to get the ball rolling with the relevant agencies in your area. While the true story behind Nowhere Special is rather unique, there is still a need for caring people to take on the responsibility of parent for those children who are in desperate need of a loving home.  

Were you moved by the story featured in Nowhere Special? Did you enjoy the film? Let us know in the comments below.

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