Eliza Scanlen, Evan Rachel Wood, Vanessa Redgrave and Rufus Sewell are attached to star in Kate Dennis’ debut feature All That I Am.
An adaptation of Anna Funder’s Miles Franklin-winning novel of the same name, the film follows four German-Jewish pacifists forced to flee to London as Hitler comes to power.
Sixty years later, the sole survivor of the group, Ruth Wesemann, is living in Sydney. One day she receives a package containing the memoirs of her old friend Ernst Toller that bring back memories of how they smuggled classified documents from Nazi Hermann Goering’s office into Britain.
Funder’s novel is based on real people. Scanlen will play the young Ruth, and Redgrave her older self. Wood will play Dora Fabian and Sewell is Ernst.
Set to shoot across Sydney and Berlin in winter this year, All That I Am will be Kate Dennis’ first feature after an extensive TV career across Australia and the US, including The Handmaid’s Tale, for which she was nominated for an Emmy.
The film is fully financed by AGC Studios, who is shopping it at the European Film Market next week.
It will likely be one of the first projects to enter production for Troy Lum, Andrew Mason and Gabrielle Tana’s new outfit Brouhaha Entertainment, who have partnered here with German producers Jorgo Narjes (Babylon Berlin) and Uwe Schott (The Queen’s Gambit), of X Filme Creative Pool.
The project has been in development for around six to seven years as the producers navigated the pandemic and iterations of script and cast.
Despite the journey, Lum tells IF that the team is pleased to have secured actors of the calibre of Scanlen and Wood, noting they “best suit the parts”.
Matthew Faulk and Mark Skeet are writing the screenplay, with Funder also having having had involvement in the scripting process.
Lum describes the film as a faithful adaptation, though they have worked to imbue the story with a cinematic quality.
“While we’ve kept all the beats around friendship and the historical storylines, we’ve infused it with a bit more more of an espionage quality and also more suspense.”
Further, since the world has changed since they began development, from the #MeToo movement, the rise of Trump and the pandemic, they have tried to emphasise different elements of the script so that it speaks to the times.
“This is a very prescient movie in terms of its themes,” Lum says.
“We now have a script that, whilst it’s set in the 1930s, there’s a certain currency around those events and how we look at the world through the lens of this story.”
In terms of Dennis, Lum is excited to see her bring her experience in television to cinema.
“I think film allows allows her to have more freedom in terms of the choices that she can make, and I’m really excited about that because just in the journey of working with her, I feel she’s got a fantastic filmmaking instinct.”