The film about black women passing as white may be picked up by Netflix.
Passing is a drama about two African-American women who can “pass” as white, and who choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line in 1929 New York. The drama is a compelling exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, obsession, and repression. Passing competed in the U.S. Drama Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
Ethiopian-Irish star Ruth Negga (Loving, Preacher) stars as Clare Kendry and Tessa Thompson (Creed, Men In Black: International) plays Irene Redfield, high-school friends who reunite later in life. Clare lives in Europe and “passes” for white, keeping her black identity a secret from everyone, including her family. As she and Irene become close, the film explores the binaries of race, sexuality, and class.
Negga said of the universal themes of the film. “I think we all wear a mask of a kind, many masks, and sometimes we switch them in and switch them out. I think that’s just basic survival, really,”
The film is a real statement of female empowerment, with Hall making her helming debut on the Nella Larsen novel, and Thompson and Negga turning in powerhouse performances. Netflix competed in a field of five bidders, and will do one of its top-shelf awards streaming releases with a theatrical distribution component.
The film is produced by Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, and Margot Hand. Film4 is co-financier. Daniel Battsek, Ollie Madden, Lauren Dark, Joseph Restaino, Dori Rath, Oren Moverman, Angela Robinson, Erika Hampson, Michael Y Chow, Kevin A Lin, Brenda Robinson, Chaz Ebert, Yvonne Huff, Christopher Liu, Arcadiy Golubovich, David Gendron, and Ali Jazayeri are the exec producers.
The deal was brokered by Endeavor Content.