BBC Films to adapt Alan Bennett’s The Lady In The Van
9 May, 2014 | By Michael Rosser
New feature, starring Maggie Smith, will reunite the team behind The History Boys. BBC Films to also produce crime drama City of Tiny Lights starring Riz Ahmed.
BBC Films has unveiled its upcoming slate ahead of Cannes, which highlights its ongoing strategy to develop new talent and bolster existing relationships with filmmakers.
The slate is headlined by The Lady In The Van, an adaptation of the memoir of playwright, screenwriter, actor and author Alan Bennett.
Reuniting the team behind The History Boys, BBC Films and Bennett will be joined by Nicholas Hytner who will direct. Kevin Loader, Damian Jones and Nicholas Hytner will produce.
Starring Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings as Bennett, The Lady In The Van is based on Bennett’s experiences with Miss Shepherd, a vagrant who parked her clapped out old dormobile in his drive and stayed for 15 years.
BBC Films also revealed that they will be producing City of Tiny Lights with Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto. Starring Riz Ahmed and Roshan Seth, the film will be directed by Pete Travis and adapted by Patrick Neate from his novel of the same name. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales.
Ahmed will play cynical London private eye Tommy Akhtar, hired by Melody Chase (Cush Jumbo) to find her missing friend. His journey to uncover the truth leads him deep into the criminal underbelly of modern London, unlocking shocking secrets from his own past.
BBC Films’ Pride, directed by Matthew Warchus, will close Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and is set to open in the UK on September 12.
The film, which stars Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Andrew Scott and Paddy Considine, is a comedy drama inspired by a true story set in the summer of 1984 about a group of gay and lesbian activists who decide to raise money to support the families of the striking miners.
Christine Langan, head of BBC Films, said: “Our ambition is to be a creative hub enabling exciting British filmmakers to tell their stories. From Pride at Cannes through to today announcing The Lady in The Van with Alan Bennett, BBC Films nurtures a comprehensive range of films from inception, through production, cinema release and to their eventual home on BBC Two.”
Simon Curtis joins forces once again with BBC Films following the award winning My Week with Marilyn to direct Woman In Gold, starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Brühl. Shooting in May in the UK, Mirren will play real-life heroine Maria Altmann, a Jewish WWII survivor who fought the Austrian government to retrieve several paintings by Gustav Klimt that were stolen from her family during WWII.
Having worked previously with Rufus Norris and Dixie Linder on Broken, BBC Films will again collaborate with the director and producer on London Road. Documenting the events of 2006, when the quiet rural town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women, the film stars Olivia Colman and Tom Hardy alongside the entire cast of the critically acclaimed National Theatre musical production. The film has just wrapped.
Vera Brittain’s First World War memoir, Testament of Youth, is now in post production. Directed by James Kent, the film stars Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington alongside Alicia Vikander as iconic writer, feminist and pacifist, Vera Brittain.
Another literary adaptation is Far From The Madding Crowd, due for release in Spring 2015 and adapted for the screen by David Nicholls. The film is directed by Thomas Vinterberg and stars Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple and Matthias Schoenaerts.
Schoenaerts also stars in upcoming Suite Française and A Little Chaos.
Suite Française, directed by Saul Dibb, is adapted from author Irène Némirovsky’s best-selling Second World War novel, unearthed by her daughters more than 50 years after her death. Schoenaerts appears alongside My Week With Marilyn’s Michelle Williams and Kristin Scott Thomas.
A Little Chaos, directed by Alan Rickman, sees Kate Winslet appear with Schoenaerts as a landscape-gardener in 17th century France, who is awarded the esteemed assignment to construct part of the grand gardens at Versailles, a gilt-edged position that thrusts her to the very centre of the court of King Louis XIV. The film is produced by Gail Egan and Andrea Calderwood of Potboiler Productions.
Currently shooting in Montreal is John Crowley’sBrooklyn, an adaptation by Nick Hornby of Colm Toibin’s bestselling novel. Produced by Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
Bill Condon’s A Slight Trick of The Mind starts principal photography in July with Sir Ian McKellen starring as Sherlock Holmes. With his legendary mental powers on the wane, and without his old sidekick Watson, Holmes is faced with the toughest case of his life – a case that might finally reveal to him the mysteries of the human heart. The cast also includes Laura Linney and Hattie Morahan.
BBC Films’ comedy slate is broadened this year with TV character Mrs Brown taking the leap to the big screen with the release of Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie on June 27.
Also set for theatrical release is What We Did On Our Holiday from the creators of BBC comedy seriesOutnumbered. Billy Connolly stars alongside David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Celia Imrie, Ben Miller and Amelia Bullmore.
Early 2014 saw principal photography start on two new comedies. London-based romantic comedy Man Up, starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg, is produced by Nira Park and James Biddle of Big Talk Productions.
Bill, which is due for release on Feb 20, 2015, is a feature film comedy about Shakespeare starring the BAFTA-winning cast of BBC TV’s Horrible Histories.
BBC Films has also produced Zawe Ashton’s Happy Toysand co-funded Riz Ahmed’s Daytimer; both shorts mark their directorial and screen-writing debuts.
Further upcoming theatrical releases include: Israel Horovitz’s My Old Lady starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas; Carol Morley’s The Falling starring Greta Scacchi, Maxine Peake and Maisie Williams; Morgan Matthews’ X+Y starring Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Asa Butterfield and Jo Yang; The Face of an Angel which stars Daniel Brühl, Kate Beckinsale and Cara Delevingne and sees BBC Films again collaborate with Michael Winterbottom.
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