Altitude Film Sales is handling international rights and will be at Cannes to show the first footage to buyers. Showtime will premiere the film in the U.S., and Altitude will distribute in the U.K. and Ireland.
“Chasing Chaplin” comes from Peter Middleton and James Spinney, who are three-time BAFTA nominees for “Notes on Blindness.” It charts Chaplin’s life in his own words and those of the people closest to him, reflecting on his rags-to-riches story. Middleton and Spinney set out to make a personal portrayal of the artist and entertainer, who was, for part of the 20th century, the most famous man in the world.
Production is now complete on the film, which is produced by Ben Limberg, John Battsek (“Searching for Sugar Man”) and BAFTA-nominated Mike Brett (“Notes on Blindness”).
The filmmakers had the blessing of the Chaplin family, and licensed film and photos from the estate and MK2, which manages the rights.
They had access to a four-day interview that Chaplin gave to Life magazine reporter Richard Meryman in 1966, which is re-created and forms a central part of the documentary. The team also filmed at Chaplin’s World by Grévin, the Charlie Chaplin museum in Switzerland in the famous Manoir de Ban, where the interview took place and where Chaplin lived.
Beatrice de Reynies, general director of Chaplin’s World, said the museum closed its doors to the public to allow the filmmakers in and that “welcoming the production to the Manoir de Ban, Chaplin’s home for about 25 years, was a very emotional experience.”
“We experienced a kind of time travel whilst re-staging Meryman’s unique encounter with Chaplin in the same rooms that the interview was recorded [in] half a century ago,” Middleton and Spinney said. “With careful attention to detail, the cast and crew have created a vivid dramatic frame for the film, in which Chaplin tells his remarkable life story.”
“We are all acutely aware of the responsibility we have placed on ourselves in taking on the extraordinary story of Charlie Chaplin,” Battsek added. “With Pete and James’ approach of seamlessly blending historical and unseen footage with originally shot material, we are extremely excited at the prospect of presenting a new and unique approach to the Chaplin story to a worldwide audience.”