The 61st BFI London Film Festival has set Andy Serkis’ feature directorial debut Breathe as its opening night gala. Based on the true story of Robin Cavendish, the uplifting period drama stars Andrew Garfield and The Crown‘s Claire Foy.
The October 4 opening night screening will be simulcast to cinemas across the UK and is billed as the European premiere, suggesting the film will likely hit the fall fest circuit in September. The LFF berth showcases Breathe in front of BAFTA members and the hundreds of AMPAS voters who reside in the UK.
From a script by two-time Oscar nominee William Nicholson, the inspirational true story centers on the adventurous and charismatic Robin Cavendish (Garfield) who has his whole life ahead of him when he is paralyzed by polio at age 28 and given just months to live. Against all advice, his wife Diana (Foy) brings him home from the hospital and with devotion and witty determination encourages him to lead a long and fulfilled life. Refusing to be limited by expectations, they raise their young son and devote their lives to helping other polio patients.
The Imaginarium’s Jonathan Cavendish, upon whose parents’ story the film is based, is producer. Serkis, who’s reprising his role as Caesar in next month’s War For The Planet Of The Apes, calls Breathe “a deeply personal story to all of us at The Imaginarium… To have the European premiere of my directorial debut in London, my hometown, is beyond my wildest dreams.”
BFI London Film Fest director Clare Stewart calls the movie “a beacon for remarkable British talent.”
Supporting cast members include Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander, Stephen Mangan and Diana Rigg. Financing is from Silver Reel, BBC Films and the BFI, brokered by Embankment Films.
The London Film Fest runs from October 4-October 15. The full lineup will be unveiled on August 31.