Elizabeth McGovernEXCLUSIVE: Coming off a killer Sundance where it acquired The Way, Way Back and unveiled its film Stoker, Searchlight has acquired worldwide rights to Laura Moriarty’s best-selling novel The Chaperone. My Week With Marilyn helmer Simon Curtis will direct a a script written by Downton Abbey‘s Julian Fellowes. The film reunites Fellowes with his Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern. Eli Selden and Adam Shulman of Anonymous Content are producing with Curtis and McGovern.

Amid the backdrop of the tumultuous times of the early 1920s, the life of a Kansas woman (McGovern) is forever changed when she chaperones a beautiful and talented 15 year-old dancer named Louise Brooks to New York for the summer. One of them is eager to fulfill her destiny of silent film stardom; the other hopes to unearth the mysteries of her past.

“I have longed to make a film of Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone from the moment I first read it and I could not hope for better collaborators than the formidable Downton team of Julian Fellowes and Elizabeth McGovern,” Curtis said.

Said McGovern: “I adore Laura Moriarty’s wonderful novel The Chaperone and it is a dream come true to be making a film of it for Fox Searchlight with two of my favorite collaborators — the incomparable Julian Fellowes and Simon Curtis.”

The Chaperone is a poignant, and I think very moving, story about a woman learning who she really is, in the changing world that was the 1920s. I am absolutely delighted to be a part of the project,” Fellowes said.

UTA repped the package, McGovern, Curtis and Fellowes.