Mister Smith Launches Dakota Fanning Starrer ‘Brain on Fire’

Charlize Theron is a producer, ‘Glassland’s’ Gerard Barrett directs

Dakota Fanning American Pastoral
Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

Bringing onto the market a project with literary pedigree from a rising director whose latest film has just earned Sundance plaudits, London’s Mister Smith Ent. will launch international sales at next week’s Berlin Festival on “Brain on Fire,” starring Dakota Fanning in a role which looks like a gift from Charlize Theron, who figures among the producers.

Gerard Barrett (“Glassland”) will direct from his own screenplay based on the New York Times bestselling memoir by Susannah Cahalan. WME will handle domestic sales. Principal photography is scheduled to start in May of this year.

“Brain on Fire” toplines Fanning as Cahalan in the true event story of a woman’s terrifying and sudden descent into insanity. The New York Journal of Books dubbed Cahalan’s account “shocking and memorable.”

“The script is a breathtaking account of a young woman’s nightmarish experience.  It is both extraordinary and yet so relatable.  Dakota Fanning is such a talent and perfect for the role, whilst Gerard Barrett has shown himself to be the master of emotional cinema,” said Mister Smith Ent. CEO David Garrett.

Like Studiocanal’s untitled James Marsh movie, about tragic around-the-world yachtsman Donald Crowhurst, announced Tuesday and also heading to for Berlin, “Brain on Fire” also adds to the notable corpus of true-event based movies, ordinary – or extraordinary – people going through extraordinary experiences now often being talked up for Academy Award glory.

Said Garrett: “There is a market for intelligent fare, good-story telling, Think of the kinds of movies that get nominated for Oscars and the Golden Globes – ‘Boyhood,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘The Theory of Everything,’ ‘Wild’: They are intelligent, have a strong emotional core, are very relatable and based on stories which come from real life.”

Theron, Beth Kono, and AJ Dix produce for Denver and Delilah Films and Rob Merilees for Foundation Features