Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan movie to close BFI London Film Festival

A drama about the love affair between an acclaimed palaeontologist and a young woman recovering from tragedy starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan will close the BFI London Film Festival.

The pair star in Ammonite, directed by God’s Own Country filmmaker Francis Lee, which will receive its UK premiere on October 17 and will be available to audiences at cinemas across UK with a virtual introduction from Lee and key cast.

It will be part of the festival’s expanded online presence and regional screenings, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and concerns over accessibility.

The majority of this year’s festival will feature virtual premieres from a programme of more than 55 films, many with an introduction and Q&A, as well as talks, roundtables and a new exhibition of immersive art.

In Ammonite, Winslet plays the acclaimed self-taught palaeontologist Mary Anning, who works alone on the coastline of Lyme Regis in the 1840s.

She now hunts for common fossils to sell to rich tourists to support herself and her ailing widowed mother, and, in need of money, agrees to care for Charlotte (played by Ronan), the wife of a tourist to the area.

Despite being from different social spheres, the pair find comfort in each other and it is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair.

Lee said: “I’m thrilled Ammonite has been chosen to close the BFI London Film Festival.

“In these incredibly difficult times, it’s wonderful to see this film about intimacy, love and hope getting its UK premiere at LFF.”

BFI London Film Festival director, Tricia Tuttle, added: “We were huge admirers of Francis Lee’s debut and it’s a pleasure to have him close the 2020 BFI London Film Festival with his sublime second feature, Ammonite.

“Francis has the ability to place love stories of breath-taking intimacy within a rich socio-political context, always with a delicate touch, and here offers reflections on class difference and the erasure of women from scientific history.

“In Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, Ammonite features two enthralling and gifted leads; Kate in particular, who appears in almost every scene, gives a fearless and complex performance as the brilliant, proud Mary Anning.”

The BFI London Film Festival will run from October 7 to 18.