Roadside Attractions and Vertical have co-acquired U.S. rights To the WWII drama Lee, marking the feature directorial debut of veteran cinematographer Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). which stars Academy Award winner Kate Winslet (The Regime) as famed American war correspondent and photographer, Lee Miller.
The film, written by Liz Hannah (The Post) and Marion Hume & John Collee, is slated to hit theaters September 20th, opening against Sony and Apple’s thriller Wolfs starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, and Uni animation The Wild Robot.
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World premiering at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, Lee begins in the late 1930s, as Hitler amasses power in Germany. Miller (Winslet) leaves her world and her artistic circle of friends behind in France and travels to London, having fallen wildly in love with the art dealer Roland Penrose (Alexander Skarsgård). The two embark on a passionate relationship, and then war breaks out in Europe. Already a renowned photographer, Miller gains a job completing assignments for British Vogue, but is shocked by the restrictions placed on female photographers. As Hitler’s regime takes over Europe, she grows increasingly frustrated that her work is constrained by patriarchal rules, leaving her documenting the British home front.
Determined to be where the action is, Miller defiantly pushes against the establishment and with the blessing of her friend and editor Audrey Withers (Andrea Riseborough), she overcomes enormous obstacles and gets herself to the frontline of World War II. Immediately compelled to document the truth, she turns her lens in the direction of suffering, and slowly begins to reveal the horrific loss of life due to Hitler’s diabolical crimes against the innocent victims of his regime. She carried out this dangerous work for the sake of the female readers of Vogue Magazine, from whom the reality of war was largely kept hidden.
After battling her way through the siege of Saint-Malo and photographing one of the first uses of Napalm, Miller joins forces with Life Magazine photographer David E. Scherman (Andy Samberg). She and Scherman’s friendship and partnership yield an indelible series of pictures sent back to the U.S. and England, which to this day continue to shape how we view these events.
Also starring Josh O’Connor (The Crown) and Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), the film is produced by Winslet, Kate Solomon, Troy Lum, Andrew Mason, Marie Savare and Lauren Hantz. Aboard to distribute it internationally are Sky (UK), Elevation Pictures (Canada), Studiocanal (Australia, New Zealand, Pacific, Germany, Austria), SND (France), Vertice 360 (Italy, Spain, Latin America), Empire (South Africa), Ascot Elite (Switzerland), The Searchers (Benelux), Scanbox (Scandinavia), The Film Group (Greece, Cyprus), Nos Lusomundi (Portugal), Forum Film (Israel), Front Row (Middle East), Acme (Baltic States), and Vertical/Monolith/Blitz (Eastern Europe).
“We are both thrilled to be partnering with Roadside Attractions and Vertical to release Lee,” stated producers Solomon and Winslet. “They feel as passionately as we do about a film that reveals an untold story, bringing Lee Miller’s legacy to audiences around the world.”
News of the deal for Lee comes following a partnership between Roadside and Vertical on titles including Emily the Criminal, Benediction and The Pod Generation, as well as the upcoming Asphalt City (fka Black Flies) and Firebrand. Roadside Co-President Howard Cohen negotiated the deal for the company, with Partner Peter Jarowey and SVP of Acquisitions Tony Piantedosi on behalf of Vertical, and CAA Media Finance and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.