Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan Romance 'Ammonite' to Close London Film Festival

Ammonite Still 1 -Kate Winslet -Saoirse Ronan - Publicity -NEON-H 2020
Courtesy of NEON

From left: Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in 'Ammonite'

The film from Brit director Francis Lee will have its U.K. premiere on Oct. 17.

Ammonite, the buzzy LGBT period romance starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, is set to close the 2020 BFI London Film Festival.

The film — from Brit director Francis Lee (God's Own Country) which will have its world premiere in Toronto in September — will bow in the U.K. on Oct. 17 across various cinemas, drawing the curtain on the London festival's first hybrid edition that has shifted mostly online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week it was announced that Steve McQueen's Mangrove would open the festival on Oct. 7.

Produced by See-Saw Films (The King's Speech) and already amassing some awards chatter, Ammonite is described as both a heartfelt love-story and an examination of gender, class and society in mid 19th century Britain.

The film follows real-life pioneering paleontologist Mary Anning (Winslet), who with her days of famed discoveries behind her now works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis, hunting for common fossils to sell to rich tourists. But her solitude is disturbed by the arrival of a young woman named Charlotte (Ronan) and her husband, Roderick Murchison (James McArdle).

With his wife stricken by tragedy and suffering from "melancholia," Roderick offers Mary payment to walk with Charlotte along the shores and keep her busy during this leg of their European journey. Despite not being in the market for an apprentice, Mary does need the money, and so she takes Charlotte along as she traverses daily along the overcast shore, clashing with her unwanted new guest.

They are two women from utterly different worlds. Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realisation that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably.

"I’m thrilled Ammonite has been chosen to close the BFI London Film Festival," said Lee. "In these incredibly difficult times, it’s wonderful to see this film about intimacy, love and hope getting its U.K. premiere at LFF."

Ammonite is co-financed by the BFI and BBC Films. See-Saw Films developed the film with the BFI and BBC Films. The BFI’s relationship with Lee goes back to 2015 with his hugely successful debut, God’s Own Country, which received development and production funding. The film is produced by Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly.

"We were huge admirers of Francis Lee’s debut and it’s a pleasure to have him close the 2020 BFI London Film Festival with his sublime second feature, Ammonite," said festival director Tricia Tuttle.

"Francis has the ability to place love stories of breath-taking intimacy within a rich socio-political context, always with a delicate touch, and here offers reflections on class difference and the erasure of women from scientific history. In Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, Ammonite features two enthralling and gifted leads; Kate in particular, who appears in almost every scene, gives a fearless and complex performance as the brilliant, proud Mary Anning."

Ammonite is being released by Neon in the U.S. and Lionsgate in the U.K.