Sunday 22 Dec 2013
BBC Films will be exceptionally well represented at the two key international film Festivals this autumn, with an unprecedented nine titles selected for Toronto and three for Venice.
Leading the way in Toronto will be the world premiere of Jon Amiel's Creation (UK opening on 25 September through Icon) selected for the prestigious opening night slot, the first time in many years that a non-Canadian film has been given this honour.
Paul Bettany and Academy Award-winner Jennifer Connelly play Charles and Emma Darwin in this powerful story illustrating a key period in Darwin's life – the years while he was formulating one of the most important works ever written – On The Origin Of Species. Jeremy Thomas produces.
Further world premieres set for Toronto include Stephen Poliakoff's return to the big screen, Glorious 39 (UK opening on 20 November through Momentum), starring Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, Eddie Redmayne and David Tennant and produced by Martin Pope and Barney Reisz.
Set on the eve of the Second World War, and based on real events, a young woman stumbles across evidence of a Nazi appeasement plot.
Scott Hicks' The Boys Are Back (UK opening on 15 January through Disney) is a funny and moving film about being a lone parent in a world without rules, starring Clive Owen, and produced by Greg Brenman, Timothy White and Clive Owen.
Four more BBC Films co-productions will use their Toronto selection as a high-profile platform for their impending US releases.
Andrea Arnold's Cannes winner Fish Tank (UK opening on 11 September through Artificial Eye) starring Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Katie Jarvis, Rebecca Griffiths and Harry Treadaway, is the story of how 15-year-old Mia's life is turned on its head when her mum brings home a new boyfriend. Producers are Nick Laws and Kees Kasander.
Jane Campion's Cannes competition entry Bright Star (UK opening on 6 November through Pathe) is an intense exploration of the two-year relationship between the 18-year-old Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) and the 23-year-old romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw). Producers are Jane Campion, Jan Chapman and Caroline Hewitt.
Tom Hooper's passionate and dramatic story of Brian Clough's 44-day period as manager of Leeds United, The Damned United (released in the UK by Sony in March 2009), stars Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Jim Broadbent. It is produced by Andy Harries.
Lone Scherfig's Sundance prize-winner An Education (E1 Films in the UK on 30 October) stars Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Cara Seymour, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson. The Nick Hornby script tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who meets an older man in Sixties London. Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey produce.
Two BBC Films titles will have world premieres at the Venice Film Festival and subsequently screen at Toronto.
Grant Heslov's The Men Who Stare At Goats (UK opening on 22 January through Momentum), adapted from Jon Ronson's book, stars George Clooney (who also produces), Jeff Bridges, Ewan MacGregor and Kevin Spacey – a darkly comic tale of the war on terror and America's zeal to save the world.
And Nicolas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising (UK release through Vertigo in March next year) is a powerful epic set in 1000 AD, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Gary Lewis and Jamie Sives. The producers are Henrik Danstrup, Bo Ehrhardt, Johnny Anderson and Karen Smyth. For years, One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde. Aided by Are, a boy slave, One Eye slays his captor and together he and Are escape, beginning a journey into the heart of darkness.
Both films screen out of competition.
Repo Chick, written, directed and produced by Alex Cox, will have its world premiere in the Orizzonti section in Venice. Spoiled rich girl Pixie De La Chasse is disinherited and becomes the best repo chick around. When she takes a wacky ride on a bomb-filled train headed straight for downtown, it's up to Pixie to save LA. Starring Jaclyn Jonet, Miguel Sandoval, Chloe Webb, Rosanna Arquette and Karen Black, the producers are Eric Bassett, Daren Hicks, Simon Tams, Benji Kohn, Austin Smart and Bingo Gubelmann.
Christine Langan, Creative Director of BBC Films, said: "This is a record number of our films selected for these key festivals. The eclectic mix goes to the heart of what we do. We congratulate our partners and reiterate our commitment to British talent and British filmmaking in these difficult times."
BBC Films' Managing Director Jane Wright commented: "The Toronto International Film Festival has been a solid mainstay for showcasing our films amongst the world's best for many years, but this year is truly special with three world premieres, including the opening night film and four North American launches. And, with our three films selected in such a long-established and prestigious festival as Venice, this really is a fantastic achievement."
Beyond the autumn festivals, Kolton Lee's Freestyle, the third film in the Film London Microwave slate, is a fast-moving romance set in the world of freestyle basketball. It will open through Revolver in February next year and stars Lucy Konadu, Arinze Kene and Colin Salmon. Lincia Daniel produces.
Debbie Isitt's follow up to Confetti, Nativity, starring Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen, Jason Watkins and Marc Wootton, will open on 4 December through E1 Films. The producer is Nick Jones.
Currently in production for BBC Films are award-winning promo duo Max and Dania's feature debut Streetdance, an exciting and dramatic look at the world of street dancing in the UK, shooting in 3D. Starring Charlotte Rampling, Nichola Burley, Richard Winsor and George Sampson with Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity and Street Dance champions, Flawless, the producer is James Richardson of Vertigo Films.
Also on location is Richard Loncraine's The Special Relationship, the third in writer Peter Morgan's trilogy of films about Tony Blair following The Deal and The Queen. Starring Michael Sheen, Dennis Quaid, Hope Davis and Helen McCrory, the film charts the unique and sometimes turbulent relationship between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Frank Doelger, Tracey Scoffield and Ann Wingate produce for HBO Films.
An Education: BBC Films presents a Finola Dwyer/Wildgaze Films Production in association with Endgame Entertainment.
Bright Star: Pathé Productions, Film Finance Corporation Australia, BBC Films and the UK Film Council present in association with the New South Wales Film and Television Office and Hopscotch International.
Creation: Recorded Picture Company, BBC Films, HanWay, Jeremy Thomas present in association with Ocean, BBC Films and HanWay a Recorded Picture Company production. A Jon Amiel Film.
Fish Tank: BBC Films and the UK Film Council in association with Limelight present a Kees Kasander production.
Glorious 39: BBC Films, UK Film Council, Screen East Content Investment Fund and Quickfire Films present a Talkback Thames production in association with Magic Light Pictures. A Stephen Poliakoff Film.
The Men Who Stare At Goats: Winchester in association with BBC Films presents A Smoke House/Paul Lister Production. International sales by Mandate International.
Nativity: BBC Films and Screen West Midlands present in association with Limelight, a Mirrorball Films Production of a Debbie Isitt Film.
Repo Chick: a Collateral Image project and Industrial Entertainment Production in association with BBC Films, Defilm and Paper Street Films of an Alex Cox Picture.
The Boys Are Back: Miramax Films present in association with BBC Films and Screen Australia and South Australian Film Corporation and Hopscotch Films, a Tiger Aspect Pictures Productions in association with Southern Light Films.
The Damned United: Columbia Pictures Industries Inc, BBC Films in association with Screen Yorkshire present a Left Bank Pictures production.
Valhalla Rising: Nicolas Winding Refn presents a Nimbus Film production produced by One Eye Production in association with Blind Eye Productions, La Belle Alleé Productions and Scanbox Film in association with Wild Bunch, Wild Side Films, Scanbox Entertainment, the Wales Creative IP Fund, DR TV Drama, BBC Films and Vertigo Films Distribution.