IFC Films is acquiring U.S. rights to “Summerland,” a British drama starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Variety has learned exclusively.
The movie is the directorial feature debut from Jessica Swale, who won an Olivier Award for her play “Nell Gwynn,” in which Arterton and Mbatha-Raw both starred. Swale was named as one of Variety’s Brits to Watch in 2019.
IFC Films will release “Summerland” on July 31. In the film, Arterton portrays a fiercely independent folklore investigator who secludes herself in her clifftop study to debunk myths using science to disprove the existence of magic. Consumed by her work, but also profoundly lonely, she is haunted by a love affair from her past. When Lucas Bond’s spirited evacuee from the London Blitz is dumped into her irritable care, his innocence and curiosity awaken her buried emotions. “Summerland” also stars Penelope Wilton (“Downton Abbey”) and Tom Courtenay.
“‘Summerland’ reinforces the importance of opening oneself up to love and kindness in all different forms, and we’re proud to bring this powerful message and fierce debut from Jessica Swale to capture the hearts of audiences right now,” said Arianna Bocco, IFC Film’s executive VP of acquisitions and productions.
It was produced by Guy Heeley and Adrian Sturges, and is a Quickfire and BFI presentation of a Shoebox Films and Iota Films production.
Swale added, “I’m delighted to be working with IFC to bring Summerland to the US. ‘Summerland’ is about hope, imagination and the possible existence of magic. It is about finding light after darkness, and, as such, has never felt more timely. I can’t wait to share this story, in which Gemma gives a performance unlike anything we have seen her do before, as a woman who learns to embrace life, against all odds, in all its complexity and diversity.”
The deal was negotiated by Bocco with Embankment Films and Gersh on behalf of the filmmakers.