Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut already made a big splash with its Sundance Film Festival premiere — and the film is set to make even bigger noise, as Netflix is nearing a $16 million deal for worldwide distribution rights on the film, an individual with knowledge of the deal tells Variety.
Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga star in the project, based on the 1929 novella by Nella Larsen and adapted by Hall, about racial passing in 1920s New York.
“Passing” was one of the buzziest titles heading into the festival, with Endeavor Content handling sales for the picture. The film boasts a starry cast (André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård and Bill Camp also star in the film) and, after its well-reviewed premiere, a sizable acquisition deal was to be expected.
Set amid the Harlem Renaissance, Irene (Thompson) and Clare (Negga) are two mixed race women, and childhood friends, who reunite in their adulthood, discovering that they now live on two different sides of the color line, with Clare “passing” as white. As the two women’s lives become more intertwined, the narrative turns inward, giving a look into the complicated nature of racial identity and how we all are impacted by how the world sees us.
“Passing” is produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Margot Hand and Hall. Thompson and Negga are among the film’s executive producers, along with Oren Moverman, Angela Robinson, Erika Hampson, Michael Y. Chow, Kevin A. Lin, Lauren Dark, Daniel Battsek, Ollie Madden, Brenda Robinson, Chaz Ebert, Yvonne Huff, Christopher Liu, Arcadiy Golubovich, Dori A. Rath, Joseph J. Restaino, David Gendron and Ali Jazayeri.