Focus Features has announced the production start on upcoming historical documentary Harriet. This feature length biopic follows the life of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The movie is directed by Kasi Lemmons with a cast led by Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn.
Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski announced today that Focus has set production on Harriet. Tubman will be played by Tony Award-winner Cynthia Erivo (Widows), and the cast includes fellow Tony Award-winner and Grammy Award-winner Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton, Murder on the Orient Express), Joe Alwyn (Boy Erased, The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots), multiple Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
Awarding winning director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) will direct a screenplay she co-wrote with Gregory Allen Howard (Ali, Remember the Titans). Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) with Martin Chase Productions, Daniela Taplin Lundberg (Beasts of No Nation, The Kids are All Right) with Stay Gold Features and Gregory Allen Howard will produce. They’re joined by cinematographer John Toll and costume designer Paul Tazewell. Josh McLaughlin, Focus Features president of production, will oversee the production. The film is set to begin filming this October in Virginia.
Based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.
Said producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg about the upcoming production.
“This is the story of a seemingly powerless woman who accomplished the extraordinary to save her loved ones, and in the process became a leader of and inspiration for her people,” said producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg. While Harriet Tubman is a household name, most people don’t know the breadth of her story – not only was she a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she was a spy for the Union army and remains one of the the few women to have led an armed expedition in US history.”
Commented Focus chairman Peter Kujawski.
“Tubman’s courageous life and the scope of her bravery is truly made to be told on the big screen. The countless lives she saved, during a time of such hatred and danger to herself, can be described only as heroic. We’re thrilled to be working with this incredibly talented group of filmmakers led by Kasi, Debra, Daniela, and Greg and this multi-talented group of actors in bringing Tubman’s life to screen.”
Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide. Focus Features acquires and produces specialty films for the global market, and holds a library of iconic movies from fearless filmmakers. Current and upcoming domestic releases from Focus include Jason Reitman’s new comedy Tully, starring Charlize Theron and written by Diablo Cody; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, director Morgan Neville’s documentary on Mister Rogers; Lenny Abrahamson’s atmospheric thriller The Little Stranger; Joel Edgerton’s coming-of-age and coming-out drama Boy Erased, about a boy’s true-life experience at a conversion therapy program, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe; Mary, Queen of Scots with Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I; On the Basis of Sex, the real-life drama of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg staring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer; Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-language drama Everybody Knows (Todos lo Saben) starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz; Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s directorial debut Mustang; and Spike Lee’s new film BlacKkKlansman.