Anita Gou’s producing career focuses on helping filmmakers and creatives bring their personal passions and visions to the screen. With Focus Features’ Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “The Silent Twins” from director Agnieszka Smoczynska, her streak producing singular visions — such as Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” and “Honey Boy,” the collaboration of writer-actor Shia LeBeouf and Alma Har’el — continues.
She started in the business right out of school getting her feet wet in post-production on bigger studio films.
“I kind of quickly realized through that experience — though very fruitful and eye-opening — that my passion was really about more independently driven films, more idiosyncratic storytelling, storytellers and stories. So I quickly navigated how to find my way to towards the kind of filmmakers I want to be working with.”
“The Silent Twins” tells the story of two Black women, June and Jennifer Gibbons, who, growing up in 1970s Wales, only communicated with each other, and created their own world, wrote fiction and committed crimes in their teens. They were eventually committed to a mental health facility. The film is based on the bestseller by Marjorie Wallace. It received a four-minute standing ovation after its May 24 Cannes debut.
Smoczynska makes her English-language bow. Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance star. “[Wright] was also one of the early collaborators — it’s a passion project for her as well.”
Gou encountered Smoczynska’s work for the first time at Sundance. “I remember seeing first ‘The Lure’ at Sundance and was blown away, just hadn’t seen anything like it,” Gou said.
“Silent Twins” screenwriter Andrea Seigel also “remembered her work and so earlier on had reached out to her.” Their connection grew and their desire to work .
“I think all of us sort of understood that Aga could bring this unique approach to the storytelling. Her biggest priority from day one was how to tell it from the girls’ perspective and not sort of treat them as outsiders. For many, many years people told their story in that way. And I think we really wanted to do something different this time and humanize [them] through their perspective and ensure dimensional characters,” Gou said.
The film is Polish-British co-prod, with veteran Polish producers Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska and Ewa Puszczyńska on board, helping guide the shoot through COVID protocols as well.
“The fact that we were able to shoot in Poland, with the incredible producers Klaudia and Ewa — they made it look easy, although it was incredibly challenging.”
As for Gou’s Cannes debut, “given the way the film came together, having been able to position it at Cannes with its long history of supporting European arthouse and being able to give a platform to surprising stories and surprising voices, it just it just felt like the perfect fit.”