EXCLUSIVE: Haifaa Al-Mansour, whose The Perfect Candidate bowed in Competition at Venice this year, has signed to direct Let It Go, a biopic of pioneering Brit technology entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley.
The English-language project will track the life of Shirley, who arrived in the UK in 1939 as a six-year-old refugee from Nazi Germany. From humble roots she built up an information technology business to be worth more than $3bn.
She was also a firm advocate of women’s rights in the workplace, creating numerous job opportunities for women at her company and also giving them shares, which made many of them rich. The early days of computing and software were heavily male-dominated, and Shirley adopted the name “Steve” to help her get ahead after finding her letters penned under Stephanie were often ignored.
Producers on the pic are Damian Jones (The Iron Lady) and The Development Partnership, the sister company of UK talent agency The Artists Partnership. Robyn Charteris wrote the script based on Shirley’s autobiography.
UK outfit Great Point Media is handling world sales and the company’s co-founders Jim Reeve and Robert Halmi are serving as executive producers.
Great Point and The Development Partnership have a multi-pic production agreement and this is the latest project from that. Also under the deal is spy movie Chasing Agent Freegard starring James Norton.
Saudi Arabian filmmaker Al-Mansour broke out with 2012 feature Wadjda, which played Venice and Telluride and was BAFTA nominated. Her English-language debut Mary Shelley starred Elle Fanning and Bel Powley and played Toronto in 2017, she then directed Netflix comedy Nappily Ever After in 2018.
“We couldn’t have found a more appropriate filmmaker to bring this story to the screen than the extraordinary Haifaa Al-Mansour. Dame Stephanie’s story shares DNA with Wadjda on the rooftop with her bicycle and Dr. Maryam striding into the tent to have her say – determined women and girls, living life on their own terms in a man’s world,” said producer Damian Jones.