Lee Miller in Normandy, France, 1944 (Copyright Lee Miller Archives).
Five years after Hopscotch Features’ Troy Lum and Andrew Mason optioned a book on pioneering American World War II photojournalist Lee Miller, the feature film is financed and set to shoot in 2021.
Kate Winslet will play the lead and co-produce with Lum and Mason, with Rocket Science financing and handling foreign sales. CAA Media Finance and UTA Independent Film Group will co-represent domestic rights.
Ellen Kuras, a DOP-turned director who worked with Winslet on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, will direct. The screenplay is by Liz Hannah (The Post, Mindhunter, Long Shot), adapted from the 1985 book The Lives of Lee Miller by Anthony Penrose, Lee’s son.
Lum tells IF that Mason came across the book when they were looking for World War II stories. Lum hadn’t heard of Miller but quickly realised the rich potential for an historical drama.
“Lee was a thoroughly modern woman who was at the forefront of her art, but her works of genius were not recognised until after her passing,” Lum says.
After the producers acquired the rights from Penrose and the Lee Miller Estate, which includes access to all her photos and diaries, they were contacted by Winslet, who wanted to make the film.
Lum met with Winslet and they agreed to co-produce. The film will be shot in the UK and either France or Germany.
“Lee Miller had a passion to expose the truth which led her to photographing the brutal realities of the second World War that were publicly down played and hushed up,” said Kuras, who has directed episodes of The Umbrella Academy, The Son and Ozark after making her directing debut on Betrayal, the 2008 feature doc about a family forced to emigrate from Laos after the secret air war waged by the US during the Vietnam War.
“This is a film which takes us on a journey that encounters loyalty and betrayal, but ultimately reveals the enigma that Lee was – as someone who buried her own hidden truths within. I am ecstatic to be a part of bringing this story to a contemporary audience.”
Winslet said: “Lee Miller was a magnificent explosion of extremes, an extreme lover, thinker, life liver, cook, Vogue cover girl, war correspondent, icon, mother. And yet history leaves her largely misunderstood.
“So often viewed through the eyes or lens of a man, she has been portrayed as a wayward, brazen beauty, whose courageous achievements were side lined as a result. She was a glorious, life embracing woman. But beneath the glossy surface there lurked deeper stories that she hid from the people she knew and loved.”