EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features International (FFI) will handle worldwide sales on the film about the celebrated English landscape painter J M W Turner to star Timothy Spall and will co-finance with BFI and Film4.

FFI chief Alison Thompson made the announcement at the EFM in Berlin on Friday [8] and will commence sales in Cannes.

For full production details

“We’re immensely looking forward to this new venture with Mike, whose unique style and storytelling is bound to deliver a compelling and beautiful film about this ground-breaking artist,” said Thompson.

Turner marks the latest collaboration between FFI and Leigh following Another Year.

“Turner as a character is compelling,” said Leigh.

“I want to explore the man, his working life, his relationships and how he lived. But what fascinates me most is the drama that lies in the tension between this driven eccentric and the epic, timeless world he evoked in his masterpieces.”

Georgina Lowe produces through Thin Man Films alongside Xofa Productions. Gail Egan, Tessa Ross from Film4 and Norman Merry of Lipsync Productions will serve as executive producers.

Lizzie Francke is lead executive for the BFI. Co-producers are Michel Saint Jean of Diaphana Films and Malte Grunert of Amusement Park Films.

FFI’s EFM sales slate comprises Berlinale competition entry Promised Land from Gus Van Sant and the upcoming Jeremy Renner thriller Kill The Messenger.