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Film4 & Focus Developing 'Suffragettes' With 'Shame' Writer Abi Morgan & Director Sarah Gavron

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist April 7, 2011 at 1:18AM

One of the reasons we get frustrated with political apathy -- the "I'm not going to bother voting, because it won't affect anything" mentality -- is because of the lengths that people went to in the past to ensure that they, and their descendants, would have the rights to have a say. Along with the civil rights movement, one of the most famous such campaigns were the Suffragettes, in early 20th century Britain. Initially used as a derogatory term (by the ever-sympathetic Daily Mail), their members -- women campaigning for the right of their gender to vote, which was finally fully granted in 1928 -- reclaimed the term, and have become inspirations to generations of activists in the years since.
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One of the reasons we get frustrated with political apathy -- the "I'm not going to bother voting, because it won't affect anything" mentality -- is because of the lengths that people went to in the past to ensure that they, and their descendants, would have the rights to have a say. Along with the civil rights movement, one of the most famous such campaigns were the Suffragettes, in early 20th century Britain. Initially used as a derogatory term (by the ever-sympathetic Daily Mail), their members -- women campaigning for the right of their gender to vote, which was finally fully granted in 1928 -- reclaimed the term, and have become inspirations to generations of activists in the years since.

Strangely, however, the movement has never really been properly depicted on screen, aside from the 2004 Hilary Swank and Vera Farmiga-starring HBO movie "Iron Jawed Angels," which focused on the American side of the activism. But that's all about to change, as Variety reports that a new film, entitled "Suffragettes," is in the works at Ruby Films ("Jane Eyre," "Tamara Drewe"), Film4 and Focus.

The film marks a reteam for Ruby Films with Sarah Gavron and Abi Morgan, the director and writer of 2007's underseen drama "Brick Lane." Gavron's mostly had a break since, although she's currently shooting the Antarctic documentary "The Edge of the World" for Film4, while Morgan's since become one of the hottest writers in the U.K. -- she penned "Shame," starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, for Steve McQueen, as well as the currently-filming Margaret Thatcher biopic "The Iron Lady," with Meryl Streep. In addition, her BBC TV drama "The Hour," billed as the British answer to "Mad Men," and toplining Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and Dominic West, has been picking up some strong early buzz.

The film will be an ensemble drama, following a number of suffragettes, and while there aren't any further plot details, we'd be stunned if Emmeline Pankhurst, the militant leader of the Women's Social and Political Union, wasn't a central character, and the incident in 1913, where Emily Davidson was trampled by the king's racehorse, is bound to figure as well. It's killer material, and with the likes of Gavron and Morgan on board, it's an enticing prospect all around, although there's as yet no word as to when the film might move forward.

This article is related to: Films, Sarah Gavron, Suffragette, Abi Morgan


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