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‘God’s Own Country,’ Gay Love Story That Premiered at Sundance, to Open Edinburgh Film Festival

Variety logo Variety 5/9/2017 Robert Mitchell
© Provided by Variety

The Edinburgh International Film Festival has set Francis Lee’s Sundance buzz title “God’s Own Country” as the opening night film for its 71st edition in June. The contemporary gay drama will see its U.K. premiere at the festival.

“This hotly tipped feature debut is one to watch in this incredible year for independent film, and perfectly reflects the festival’s ongoing dedication to delivering audiences the most original and artistically accomplished work in international cinema,” said Edinburgh’s artistic director Mark Adams.

The Yorkshire-set gay romance, which has been described as a “British ‘Brokeback Mountain,’” stars Josh O’Connor as a young sheep farmer carrying the weight of his family’s business alone. When his father hires a Romanian migrant worker, played by Alec Secareanu, and the pair begins to work closely together during lambing season, an intense relationship develops. But when family misfortune increases Josh’s responsibilities, his secret romance becomes harder to sustain.

Ian Hart and Gemma Jones co-star as O’Connor’s father and grandmother. Lee, whose also wrote the screenplay, makes his feature debut on the film.

“God’s Own Country” saw its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won Lee the directing award in the World Cinema – Dramatic section. Variety‘s review called it a “sexy, thoughtful, hopeful film.”

The movie then had its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February, where it picked up Maenner Magazine’s Readers’ Jury Award.

“After the incredible critical and audience responses to the film in both Sundance and Berlin earlier in the year, I’m thrilled to bring ‘God’s Own Country’ to the U.K. for the first time,” said Yorkshire-born Lee.

Picturehouse Entertainment has U.K. rights to “God’s Own Country,” which will release in the U.K. on Sept. 1. Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films recently acquired U.S. rights. The film is being sold worldwide by Protagonist Pictures.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival runs June 21-July 2. The full program for this year’s edition will be announced May 31.

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