'Nowhere Boy' joins Hanway slate

VENICE — Brit artist-turned-helmer Sam Taylor-Wood has signed on to direct “Nowhere Boy,” which tells the story of the teenage years of John Lennon.

U.K.-based Ecosse Films’ Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae will produce the project, with Hanway Films handling worldwide sales.

Pic will be part of Hanway’s slate in Toronto, which also includes Michael Winterbottom’s “Genova,” starring Colin Firth, and Gerald McMorrow’s “Franklyn,” starring Eva Green and Ryan Phillippe.

Taylor-Wood was nominated for a Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for her debut short “Love You More,” produced by her mentor, the late Anthony Minghella.

She was previously part of the loosely defined Young British Artist group, alongside the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, which turned the Brit art scene on its head during much of the 1990s. She is married to leading art dealer Jay Jopling.

“The story spoke to me on so many levels — both personal and artistic,” commented Taylor-Wood. “From the heightened emotional content to the color and animation that I want to bring to the story.

“The women in John’s early life truly shaped who he became and the strengths and weaknesses of their relationships are central to this film.

“It’s a passionate, alive and tender film; full of love, anger and rock’n’roll.”

Pic is written by Matt Greenhalgh, who won a BAFTA earlier this year for helmer Anton Corbijn’s “Control,” about doomed Joy Division singer Ian Brown.

“Nowhere Boy” follows Lennon through his formative years growing up in Liverpool, the tense relationship between his aunt Mimi and mother Julia and on to his first meetings with Paul McCartney.

Casting for the lead roles is underway, with lensing set to start in March next year on location in Liverpool.

Pic was co-developed by public funding org. the U.K. Film Council.

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