Sony Pictures Classics is brushing up on its Canadian art history. The specialty unit has acquired U.S. and other territory rights to Maudie, which bowed at Telluride and went on to screen at Toronto. It tells the true story of Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins) who overcame the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to become one of Canada’s premier folk artists.

SPC also has rights in Latin America, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Scandinavia, Turkey, the UK, multiple territories in Eastern Europe, Asia and South Africa.

Aisling Walsh, Sally Hawkins
Aisling Walsh, Sally Hawkins
Chris Chapman

Directed by Aisling Walsh from Sherry White’s script, the film sees the fragile but determined Maud hired as a housekeeper by Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). She yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family, and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maud’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a painter.

“Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke are astounding and surprising, making MAUDIE an illuminating film experience,” SPC said in a statement.

The film is produced by Bob Cooper, Mary Young Leckie, Susan Mullen and Mary Sexton and executive produced by Heather Haldane, Hussain Amarshi, Alan Moloney, Johanna Hogan, Mark Roberts, Sheldon Rabinowitz, Ross Jacobson, Tyler Mitchell and Ed Riche. The deal was negotiated between CAA, Mongrel International and Sony Pictures Classics.

“Aisling’s brilliant direction and the incredible performances of Sally and Ethan have made this a very special film, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have it in the hands of Sony Classics,” Cooper said. “This has been a passion project of mine since I first read the script.”