The Duke selected for 2020 Venice Film Festival

British comedy-drama The Duke will have its World Premiere at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

The film stars Academy Award winners Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren and other cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Matthew Goode and Anna Maxwell Martin.  The film was directed by BAFTA Award Winner Roger Michell from a script by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman.

Roger Michell stated: “I am delighted that The Duke has been so honoured by both the Telluride and Venice film Festivals and just regret that circumstances oblige these great celebrations of film to curtail their mission: to fill cinemas with people and their shared emotion.  

“One day soon audiences will surely return and I look forward to sharing our film with them, a film that speaks to the experience we have all been through – and perhaps one of the lessons we have all learnt – that the true measure of a civilised society is how it cares for its most vulnerable.”

Jim Broadbent said: “I am thrilled that The Duke has been selected. A film about generosity and kindness to others, even if it is demonstrated somewhat unconventionally, would seem to be very appropriate for the times. That these festivals have chosen to honour the film is a very exciting opportunity to present it to a wide audience.”

Helen Mirren said: “I had a wonderful time making The Duke, thanks to all my co-actors and our director. We are all very happy and honoured that our work is recognised by two of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. We are very much looking forward to sharing it with an audience.”

The film is a moving true story that celebrates a man who was determined to live a meaningful life:  

In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60-year old taxi driver, stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.  It was the first (and remains the only) theft in the Gallery’s history. 

Kempton sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly – he had long campaigned for pensioners to receive free television.

What happened next became the stuff of legend.  Only 50 years later did the full story emerge – Kempton had spun a web of lies.  The only truth was that he was a good man, determined to change the world and save his marriage – how and why he used the Duke to achieve that is a wonderfully uplifting tale.  

As the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, The Duke is a timely exploration of the need to recognise that we are all connected, that the health of each depends on the health of all.

The film is a Pathé, Ingenious Media and Screen Yorkshire presentation of a Neon Films Production. Nicky Bentham is the Producer and the Executive Producers are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media, Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire, Peter Scarf and Christopher Bunton.

Pathé will release the film in the UK in Spring 2021 and will also distribute the film in France and Switzerland as well as manage sales for the rest of the world.

The Venice Film Festival will be held from September 2nd – September 12th.

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