EXCLUSIVE: Ruth Wilson and Matt Bomer are attached to lead The Book of Ruth, a feature based on the true story of Ruth Coker Burks, a devout Christian divorcée and single mother from Arkansas who became a champion and caregiver for AIDS sufferers in 1980s America.
Michael Arden, the two-time Tony Award-nominated theater director who landed both those noms before the age of 35, will helm the pic, his feature film debut.
The screenplay comes from Rebecca Pollock and Kas Graham, whose 2019 script Betty Ford appeared on The Black List and was optioned by Ryan Murphy with Sarah Paulson attached.
Set in 1983, Burks (Wilson) lives a busy life, devoted to her work, her 6-year-old daughter Jessica, and her faith. When a handsome new neighbor (Bomer) turns out to be a gay New Yorker who has fled the cty and returned home after the death of his partner to AIDS, she decides to educate herself on the epidemic sweeping the country.
Scott LaStaiti, Dominic Tighe and Thomas Daley will produce. Cora Palfrey and Sarah Lebutsch will serve as executive producers. Shoot is scheduled to happen this year.
London-based Independent Film Sales will introduce the project to buyers at this week’s European Film Market in Berlin, with North American sales handled by CAA Media Finance.
“It’s a great honor and privilege to tell this important story about the responsibility one human has to another, especially in a time of crisis,” Arden said of the project. “As a gay man, I feel that Ruth’s story of empathy in the face of great prejudice and adversary is one so needed in our modern time.”
“It is vital for us to remember that we lost an entire generation to the AIDS epidemic and that so many people, including Ruth, sacrificed their own comfort, station and livelihood to help those in need during this plague,” he added.
Said the producers: “This female-led story tells us that out of the deepest darkness can come the brightest light and the work of Ruth Coker Burks is a constant reminder of all that is best about humanity.”
“The Book of Ruth is taking a look at recent history, showing us what a person can achieve if they put their prejudices aside and do the right thing. It is a truly inspirational story that buyers and audiences undoubtedly will respond to,” added Lebutsch, Independent’s head of sales.
Wilson is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Troika and Relevant.
Bomer is repped by CAA, Anonymous Content, Viewpoint and Steve Warren at Hansen, Jacobson.
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