Passing: Netflix nabs global rights to Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut
Coming off from a successful world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Deadline brings word that Netflix has successfully won the worldwide distribution rights to Rebecca Hall’s feature directorial debut titled Passing, starring Oscar nominee Ruth Negga and MCU star Tessa Thompson. Winning against four other bidders, the deal reportedly cost the mega streamer around $15.75 million which is currently this year’s second biggest acquisition coming off from Sundance following Apple’s recent record-breaking acquisition of Sian Heder’s coming-of-age drama film CODA.
Based on Nella Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance novel of the same name from 1929, Passing, which was shot in black-and-white, follows the events set off by a reunion of two childhood friends named Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, who are both mixed race women. The film is an exploration of racial identity set in 1920s New York.
The book’s official synopsis reads: “Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to “pass” as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare’s interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene’s black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling.”
The film adaptation stars Tessa Thompson (Sorry to Bother You), Ruth Negga (Loving), André Holland (Moonlight), and Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies). It will also feature Bill Camp, Ashley Ware Jenkins, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and Gbenga Akinnagbe.
Passing is written and directed by Golden Globe-nominated actress Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona, Christine). The film is produced by Hall, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, and Margot Hand with Thompson and Negga also set as executive producers.
Oren Moverman, Angela Robinson, Erika Hampson, Michael Y. Chow, Kevin A. Lin, Lauren Dark, Daniel Battsek, Ollie Madden, and Brenda Robinson have also executive produced along with Chaz Ebert, Yvonne Huff, Christopher Liu, Arcadiy Golubovich, Dori A. Rath, Joseph J. Restaino, David Gendron and Ali Jazayeri