One of the more surprising announcements as part of the recent Cannes 2020 Official Selections list is Francis Lee’s “Ammonite.” The film has been discussed quite a bit already, as it stars two of the most respected actresses working today, Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, but recently hasn’t had much news about it. But thanks to Cannes, the long-awaited period film is clearly gearing up for release, and Lee is excited to share his work with the world.
Speaking to EW, Lee talked about his new film, which tells the story of Mary Anning and her love affair with another woman during the 1840s, a time where same-sex relationships were hardly something people remotely discussed. Especially when you consider all the incredibly outdated medical knowledge of the female body.
Though the film “is not a biopic,” Lee said that he was drawn to the time-period and life of paleontologist Mary Anning to tell a story that the director thinks is timeless and beautiful.
“I was very drawn to that period because of this wonderful research into same-sex female relationships of the period that are all very well documented with letters to each other, demonstrating wonderful, life-long, passionate, intense, emotional relationships,” Lee explained. “And I was fascinated to set this film in a period that was totally patriarchal and where women were completely owned by their fathers or their husbands, and looking at how they live within that world, and also in a world where, at that time, the medical profession believed that women had no sexual-pleasure organs. So, the idea of two women actually in a relationship together was just not a thought anybody ever had within society.”
The director said that his film is meant to allow audiences to feel “the power of love; the power of a deep, intimate, human relationship; the power of touch; and hope.”
As mentioned, “Ammonite” was part of this week’s Cannes announcement and is likely going to play more festivals later this year. A release date for the project has not been announced, but with those stars, it’s a strong possibility that awards season will feature some “Ammonite” discussion.