Filming begins on BBC Films' Testament Of Youth

Date: 17.03.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.59
Category: BBC Films
Principal photography begins today on the Heyday Films and BBC Films production of Vera Brittain’s iconic and powerful, First World War memoir, Testament Of Youth.

The all star cast includes Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina), Kit Harington, (Pompeii, Game Of Thrones) Taron Egerton, (The Secret Service, Inspector Lewis) Colin Morgan, (Merlin, Doctor Who), Dominic West, (300, The Wire), Emily Watson, (The Book Thief, War Horse), Joanna Scanlan, (The Invisible Woman, Death Comes To Pemberley), Hayley Atwell, (Cinderella, Restless), Jonathan Bailey, (Broadchurch, Leonardo), Alexandra Roach, (Utopia, The Iron Lady) and Anna Chancellor (Fleming, The Hour).

Testament Of Youth is financed by BBC Films, Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund, BFI, Ingenious, Nordisk Film Production and LipSync. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales and Lionsgate UK is distributing in the UK and Australia.

Alicia Vikander plays the iconic writer, feminist and pacifist, Vera Brittain, and Kit Harington plays Roland Leighton, Brittain’s fiancé. Alicia Vikander recently completed Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Testament Of Youth is directed by James Kent (The Thirteenth Tale, The White Queen) and produced by David Heyman (Gravity, Paddington) and Rosie Alison (Paddington, The Thirteenth Tale) for Heyday Films. The co-producer is Celia Duval (Turks & Caicos, Salting The Batttlefield). The Executive Producers are Christine Langan (Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks) and Joe Oppenheimer (Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Broken) for BBC Films; Richard Mansell (Tiger House, Only Lovers Left Alive); Zygi Kamasa (The Railway Man, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen) for Lionsgate UK and Hugo Heppell (’71, Peaky Blinders) for Screen Yorkshire. Natascha Wharton is the lead executive for the BFI Film Fund.

The film shoots in various locations around the UK including Yorkshire, Oxford and London. Award-winning writer Juliette Towhidi adapted the screenplay from Brittain's searing story oflove and war, which was first published in 1933.

In Towhidi’s script Vera, irrepressible, intelligent and free-minded, overcomes the prejudices of her family and hometown to win a scholarship to Oxford. With everything to live for, she falls in love with her brother’s brilliant friend Roland Leighton as they go to University to pursue their literary dreams. But the First World War is looming and as the boys leave for the front Vera realises she cannot sit idly by as her peers fight for their country, so volunteers as a nurse and sets off for France.

"I am thrilled and honoured to be bringing Vera Brittain's powerful and passionate memoir of war, love and remembrance to the screen," said David Heyman.

"We needed a remarkable actress to capture Vera's range and complexity, so I'm completely delighted that the exceptional Alicia Vikander has taken on this role. And I am excited to be working with director James Kent whose sensibility is perfectly matched to Juliette Towhidi's deeply moving script."

"Testament Of Youth is one of the most potent and moving war memoirs ever written,” said BBC Films Head and Executive Producer, Christine Langan.

“BBC Films is privileged to be workingwith Heyday, James Kent and the luminous Alicia Vikander on bringing this unforgettable story, brilliantly retold by Juliette Towhidi, to the big screen. In this centenary year, there can be few more significant ways of examining the First World War and its phenomenal impact on 20th century life and beyond."

David Heyman’s London-based Heyday Films has a string of hit credits including the eight film Harry Potter franchise, I Am Legend, Yes Man, We're The Millers, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and Gravity which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won seven including Best Director. The company is currently in post-production on Paddington, the first live action film based on the popular children’s character.

James Kent is a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning film-maker who previously directed the critically acclaimed TV film The Thirteenth Tale for Heyday. The film, which screened in December on BBC Two in the UK, was written by Christopher Hampton and starred Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman. He previously directed the pilot and a further two episodes of Golden Globe nominated series The White Queen for BBC and Starz.

Press contacts: Milk Publicity, Una Maguire +44 (0)20 7520 1087, una@milkpublicity.com; Victoria Brooks +44 (0) 20 7520 1087, victoria@milkpublicity.com; Richard Dobbs +44 (0) 20 7520 1087, richard@milkpublicity.com