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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton to star in The Awakening

Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton headline the impressive cast of Nick Murphy's debut feature The Awakening, set to shoot in the UK in late June. StudioCanal, who are handling worldwide sales, will launch in Cannes.

Haunting and moving in equal measure, The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological/supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others but with a unique and thrilling twist.

The producer is David Thompson, whose Origin Pictures developed the project with BBC Films. StudioCanal Features will be the lead financier, alongside BBC Films and Scottish Screen. BBC Films' Joe Oppenheimer, plus Optimum's Will Clarke and Jenny Borgars, are Executive Producers.

Nick Murphy directed the BBC's Occupation, which won many awards including the prestigious Prix Europa, as well as Surviving Disaster. Murphy shares the screenwriting credit with Stephen Volk.

"This is a riveting and very original script and we are thrilled that it is to be directed by Nick Murphy as his first feature. He is an outstanding director with a really strong vision for this project, our second feature," said David Thompson of Origin Pictures, whose first feature, Justin Chadwick's The First Grader, is nearing completion.

Christine Langan, Creative Director, BBC Films, said: ''BBC Films is proud to support such a promising and dynamic first feature director as Nick Murphy and is excited at the strong British cast he has brought together.

"His thoughtful approach to the genre promises a movie as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. The Awakening is a perfect complement to a diverse British slate at BBC Films, alongside, amongst others, Vertigo's Streetdance 3D, Stephen Frears' Tamara Drewe and Nigel Cole's Made in Dagenham - all released this year."

Will Clarke, CEO Optimum Releasing, said: "We're delighted to be bringing this great project to Cannes. The combination of Nick's talent, the excellent cast and a recognised genre is a great recipe for success.

"With Rowan Joffe's Brighton Rock in post production, Joe Cornish's Attack The Block shooting, and the launch of The Awakening, our ambitious production plans are in great shape."

Carole Sheridan, Head of Talent and Creativity, Scottish Screen, said: "This is a very exciting debut feature with a wonderful cast. Scottish Screen are delighted to be involved in this film and to have attracted the team to Scotland by offering assistance finding the right locations."

Rebecca Hall, whose impressive work to date includes Vicky Christina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon, and the first of the Red Riding trilogy, is shooting Everything Must Go, adapted from the Raymond Carver story, opposite Will Ferrell. Dominic West's credits include Centurion, 300 and Hannibal Rising, and he is currently starring in Disney's John Carter Of Mars. Imelda Staunton's latest film with Mike Leigh, Another Year, screens in competition in Cannes this year. Her performance in the title role in Leigh's Vera Drake won her the BAFTA Award and an Oscar nomination, and other recent films include the Harry Potter series and Taking Woodstock.

The Awakening is set in 1921, in a post-war world of loss where the bereaved seek solace in spiritualism. Haunted by the death of her fiance, Florence spends her time debunking supernatural claims, using methodical and rational explanations to disprove the notion that the dead can still haunt us. So she feels compelled to accept a request to go to Rookwood, a boarding school in the countryside where a boy has recently been found dead and rumours about a ghostly boy haunting the school are causing panic amongst pupils and parents alike. Florence sets to work immediately, laying traps and gathering scientific evidence. Gradually little secrets begin to unravel and the mystery surrounding the ghost seems to be nothing more than a schoolboy prank. As Florence is about to leave, though, she has a chilling spectral encounter which defies all of her rational beliefs and sets her on a journey toward a heartbreaking climax.


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