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PRODUCTION / FUNDING UK

Roger Michell prepping The Duke

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- The Pretoria-born helmer's new drama centres on the uplifting real-life story of Kempton Bunton, a 60-year-old taxi driver played by Jim Broadbent

Roger Michell prepping The Duke
Actor Jim Broadbent

British theatre, television and film director Roger Michell is prepping a new feature film, entitled The Duke. The new project comes on the heels of Blackbird, a drama starring actresses Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska and Susan Sarandon in the lead roles, which premiered at Toronto in September.

The script of The Duke, penned by Richard Bean (the TV film Harvest) and Clive Coleman (the TV series The Bill and Chambers), is based on the true story of a 60-year-old taxi driver called Kempton Bunton (played by English actor Jim Broadbent) who, back in 1961, stole a Francisco Goya painting from London's National Gallery. Bunton sent a ransom note saying he would return the picture on condition that the British government agreed to provide free TV for the elderly. Nonetheless, the real motives behind Bunton's bizarre behaviour emerged only 50 years later. Said incident was the first (and still the only) theft in the museum's history.

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The star-studded cast also includes Fionn Whitehead (Port Authority [+see also:
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, Dunkirk [+see also:
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), who will play Kempton's son Jackie, and veteran actress Helen Mirren (who recently appeared as the tsarina in the Sky/HBO TV series Catherine the Great), who will play Kempton's wife.

The Duke is being produced by Neon Films for the British division of Pathé, Ingenious Media and Screen Yorkshire. Principal photography will in commence in January 2020. The executive producers announced so far are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media, and Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire. Pathé will also distribute the film in the UK, France and Switzerland and will be in charge of its world sales. The flick will be sold at the American Film Market this week, while the official release date is yet to be disclosed.

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