IFC acquires North American rights to fact-based WWII female spy drama ‘A Call to Spy’

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Radhika Apte, left, and Sarah Megan Thomas star in “A Call to Spy.” [IFC Films photo]

IFC Films has acquired the North American rights to “A Call to Spy,” the feature directorial debut of Academy Award-nominated documentary producer Lydia Dean Pilcher, which centers on the courageous unsung female spies who served in World War II.

The film production and distribution company is planning an autumn release, according to Deadline.

“It’s rare to find a war movie with one complex female character – let alone three, as in ‘A Call to Spy.’ Lydia Dean Pilcher and Sarah Megan Thomas have beautifully crafted the true story of real women who confronted hatred in World War II, and we’re thrilled to bring their film the attention it deserves,” said Arianna Bocco, Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Productions of IFC Films, in a statement, per Deadline.

“A Call to Spy” was produced by, written by and stars Sarah Megan Thomas (“Equity”), who portrays real-life American spy Virginia Hall, who had a wooden leg. The fact-based period picture takes place at the onset of WWII, as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a new spy agency, the Special Operations Executive, to recruit and train female spies.

“I am thrilled to be teaming up with IFC on this story about real female heroes. We look forward to sharing with the world a film that humanizes brave people from different countries who came together in a time of crisis — understanding we are all in this together,” Thomas said in a statement, per Deadline.

The Special Operations Executive’s mission is to pull off sabotage and build a resistance, and Special Operations Executive “spymistress” Vera Atkins (Stana Katic), recruits two unlikely candidates: Hall, an ambitious American, and Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Atpe), a Muslim pacifist. The pair works together to subvert the Nazi regime in France. (Atkins was widely believed to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise.)

“These three women, driven by the stakes of humanity, had a choice to collaborate, do nothing, or resist. Their stories are more relevant today than ever. Happy to be working with IFC Films, a longtime champion of independent vision,” said Pilcher in a statement, per Deadline.

Pilcher, who earned an Oscar nomination alongside writer-director Zachary Heinzerling for their 2013 documentary “Cutie and the Boxer,” also hired several women in vital behind-the-camera roles for “A Call to Spy,” including composer Lillie Rebecca McDonough, production designer Kim Jennings and costume designer Vanessa Porter.

“A Call to Spy” also stars Linus Roache as Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, Rossif Sutherland, Marc Rissmann as Klaus Barbie, along with Samuel Roukin, and Laila Robins.

The historical drama made its world premiere at the 2019 Edinburgh International Film Festival and won awards at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Whistler Film Festival.

Deadline also reports that British indie film distributor Signature Entertainment and Australian distributor Rialto Distribution have acquired U.K. and Australian rights, respectively, to “A Call To Spy.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: A Call to Spy won an AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-/directed Narrative Feature at Whistler Film Festival 2019.

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