Cannes: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl Set for 'Woman in Gold'

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Simon Curtis

Simon Curtis will direct the BBC Films-backed project as the public broadcaster's film unit unveils its slate ahead of the Cannes festival.

LONDON – Simon Curtis is set to join forces once again with BBC Films, the British public broadcaster's movie unit, to direct Woman In Gold, starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Bruhl.

Shooting this month in the U.K., Mirren will play real-life heroine Maria Altmann, a Jewish WWII survivor who fought the Austrian government to retrieve several paintings by Gustav Klimt that were stolen from her family during WWII.

Curtis and BBC Films previously collaborated on My Week With Marilyn.

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BBC Films executives will travel to the Festival de Cannes buoyed by the inclusion of Matthew WarchusPride, which is set to close the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes ahead of its opening in the U.K. on Sept. 12.

With an ensemble cast including Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Andrew Scott and Paddy Considine, Pride is a British comedic drama inspired by a true story about a group of gay and lesbian activists who in 1984 decided to raise money to support the families of striking miners.

BBC Films on Friday also said it would collaborate with playwright, screenwriter, actor and author Alan Bennett on the adaptation of his memoir, The Lady In The Van.

Reuniting the team behind The History Boys, BBC Films and Bennett are joined by Nicholas Hytner, who will direct. Kevin Loader, Damian Jones and Hytner will produce the film, which will star Downton Abbey's Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings, who will play Bennett.

The Lady In The Van is based on Bennett’s experiences with a vagrant who parked her old camper van in his driveway and stayed for 15 years.

BBC Films chief Christine Langan said: "Our ambition is to be a creative hub enabling exciting British filmmakers to tell their stories. From Pride at Cannes through to today announcing The Lady in The Van with Alan Bennett, BBC Films nurtures a comprehensive range of films from inception through production, cinema release and to their eventual home on BBC Two."

BBC Films also said it is backing City of Tiny Lights with Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto. Starring Riz Ahmed and Roshan Seth, the film will be directed by Pete Travis and adapted by Patrick Neate from his novel of the same name.

Ahmed will play cynical London private eye Tommy Akhtar, hired by Melody Chase (Cush Jumbo) to find her missing friend. His journey to uncover the truth leads him deep into the criminal underbelly of modern London, unlocking shocking secrets from his own past. 

Having worked previously with Rufus Norris and Dixie Linder on Broken, BBC Films has also backed London Road.

Documenting the real-life events of 2006, when the quiet rural town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women, London Road depicts a community grappling with what it means to be at the epicenter of a tragedy.

Starring Olivia Colman and Tom Hardy alongside the entire cast of a critically acclaimed National Theatre production, the film has just wrapped production.