Francis Lee’s Ammonite to close this year’s London Film Festival

We learned at the start of the week that Steve McQueen’s Mangrove would be opening this year’s BFI London Film Festival, and it has just been announced that this year’s closing film will be the biopic Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan and produced by See-Saw Films. The film will receive its UK premiere on October 17 and will be available to UK audiences at cinemas across UK who will also enjoy a virtual introduction from Lee and key cast.

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In 1800s England, acclaimed but unrecognised fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline. With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship.

A pioneering palaeontologist and passionate fossil collector, Anning’s findings contributed to changes in scientific thinking around the prehistory of the Earth and saw her named as one of the most influential women in British scientific history by the Royal Society after her death.

Ammonite director, Francis Lee, said: “I’m thrilled Ammonite has been chosen to close the BFI London Film Festival. In these incredibly difficult times, it’s wonderful to see this film about intimacy, love and hope getting its U.K. premiere at LFF.”

The film is co-financed by the BFI (awarding National Lottery funding) and BBC Films. See-Saw Films developed the film with the BFI and BBC Films. The BFI’s relationship with Lee goes back to 2015 with his hugely successful debut, God’s Own Country, which received development and production funding. The film is produced by Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly.

BFI London Film Festival Director, Tricia Tuttle said: “We were huge admirers of Francis Lee’s debut and it’s a pleasure to have him close the 2020 BFI London Film Festival with his sublime second feature, AMMONITE. Francis has the ability to place love stories of breath-taking intimacy within a rich socio-political context, always with a delicate touch, and here offers reflections on class difference and the erasure of women from scientific history. In Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, AMMONITEfeatures two enthralling and gifted leads; Kate in particular, who appears in almost every scene, gives a fearless and complex performance as the brilliant, proud Mary Anning.”

Ammonite is one of 13 other highly-anticipated new films from the programme that will screen in previews across the UK, in partnership with UK-wide cinemas network, offering audiences across the UK a unique chance to engage with the Festival. The previously announced Mangrove will open this year’s 64th BFI London Film Festival. Many of the films will also screen in the Festival’s Virtual Festival home on BFI Player, with over 55 new feature films from around the world premiering on the digital platform over the course of the festival.

Confirmed venues taking part in the Closing film preview include: Broadway, Nottingham, Cine Lumiere, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME, Manchester, ICA, Prince Charles Cinema, Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast, Showroom, Sheffield, Watershed, Bristol, Chapter Cardiff. Further sites to be added.

The 64th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from October 7-18. The full festival programme will be announced at an online launch on September 8 and all tickets will be bookable from Monday September 21.

Steven Sheehan

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

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Francis Lee’s Ammonite to close this year’s London Film Festival | The Digital Fix