Biopic “Vita & Virginia” has been set as the opening night film for this year’s edition of the BFI Flare Festival, Britain’s largest and longest running LGBTQ+ film festival. Chanya Button’s film, which stars Elizabeth Debicki as iconic author Virginia Woolf and Gemma Arterton as her lover and muse Vita Sackville-West, will see its U.K. premiere at the head of the festival’s 33rd edition on March 21.
“I’m beyond thrilled that ‘Vita & Virginia’ will be opening BFI Flare,” said Button. “I’m so grateful that this film that celebrates love and creativity in all its forms will have a platform at such a vivid and forward thinking festival.”
Based on a stage play by Eileen Atkins and adapted by Button, the film tells the true story of the long-running and passionate relationship between Woolf and Sackville-West and the birth of Woolf’s novel “Orlando,” which their encounters inspired. The film saw its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September.
Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones and Peter Ferdinando co-star in the film, which opens in the U.K. on July 12 through Thunderbird Releasing. Protagonist Pictures handles international sales on the film.
Michael Blyth, BFI Flare’s senior programmer said that Button had “crafted a rich and sensuous account of the relationship between two extraordinary women.” “Boasting superb performances by Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki in the title roles, Button’s refreshingly feminist period piece offers a bold and contemporary exploration of sexual fluidity, gender and literature itself, and we can’t wait to share it with BFI Flare audiences” said Blyth.
“Vita & Virginia” was produced by Mirror Productions and Blinder Films in association with Piccadilly Pictures, SQN, Protagonist Pictures, Lip Sync Productions, Sampsonic Media, and the Irish Film Board. The producers are Katie Holly and Evangelo Kioussis, while Arterton serves as an executive producer alongside Simon Baxter, Christopher Figg, Norman Merry, Nicolas Sampson, Arno Hazebroek, Dave Bishop, Robert Whitehouse, and Mika Kioussis.
The full program for BFI Flare will be announced Feb. 20. This year’s festival runs March 21-31.