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BBC Films Boards Alan Bennett Memoir ‘The Lady in the Van’

LONDON — BBC Films has boarded “The Lady in the Van,” which reunites the team behind “The History Boys.” The pic, which is an adaptation of playwright Alan Bennett’s memoir, will be directed by Nicholas Hytner. Producers are Kevin Loader, Damian Jones and Hytner.

Pic stars Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings, who plays Bennett. It is based on Bennett’s experiences with Miss Shepherd, a vagrant who parked her decrepit van outside his house and stayed for 15 years.

BBC Films also has revealed that it 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.

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.

Also on the BBC Films slate is “Woman in Gold,” which is being directed by Simon Curtis (“My Week with Marilyn”), and starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Bruehl. 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. Pic shoots this month in the U.K.

Matthew Warchus’ “Pride,” which was backed by BBC Films, will close Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. The ensemble cast includes Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Andrew Scott and Paddy Considine. The pic is an uplifting British 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.

Other projects on the slate include “London Road,” “Testament of Youth,” “Far From The Madding Crowd,” “Suite Française,” “A Little Chaos,” “Brooklyn” and “A Slight Trick of the Mind.”

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.”

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