LONDON — Benedict Andrews’ “Blackbird,” which stars Rooney Mara, has started shooting in the South of England. Pic, which is described as “an intense, unflinching examination of damaged love,” is produced by Jean Doumanian, whose credits include “August: Osage County,” “Saturday Night Live” and several Woody Allen movies, and Patrick Daly for Jean Doumanian Prods., alongside Maya Amsellem for WestEnd Films.
Mara, who won the actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in May for her performance in “Carol,” will play opposite Ben Mendelsohn (“Animal Kingdom,” “Starred Up”). Scottish playwright David Harrower penned the screenplay, which is based on his Olivier Award-winning play.
In the film, Ray (Mendelsohn) is confronted with his past when the young and beautiful Una (Mara) arrives unannounced at his office. Fifteen years earlier, the two had an illicit affair, for which Ray was arrested and imprisoned. He has since built a new life for himself; she is looking for answers.
Andrews said: “I am relishing the opportunity to bring this vital, highly charged story to the screen. David has written a beautiful, brutal script, and I have two outstanding actors in the roles of Ray and Una. The fragility and extremities of human experience are central to my work — and ‘Blackbird’ is no exception.”
“Blackbird” marks Andrews’ feature film directorial debut. He is an Australian stage director whose most recent theatrical productions have included the sellout London production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” starring Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster, and Sydney Theatre Company’s touring production of “The Maids” at the Lincoln Center Festival, New York, which starred Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert.
“Blackbird” has a strong lineup of talent behind the camera too: director of photography Thimios Bakatakis (“The Lobster,” “Dogtooth”), production designer Fiona Crombie (“Snowtown,” “Macbeth”), hair and make-up designer Jan Sewell (“Everest,” “X-Men: First Class”), costume designer Steven Noble (BAFTA-nominated for “The Theory of Everything”) and editor Nick Fenton (“Life,” “Submarine”).
Executive producers are Kevin Loader (“Wuthering Heights,” “Hyde Park on Hudson”), Sharon Harel and Eve Schoukroun of WestEnd Films, which is handling international sales, and David Kosse and Sam Lavender for Film4. Celia Duval is co-producer. Financial backing has been provided by Film4 and Creative Scotland.