Kristen Stewart is to play US writer, philosopher and political activist Susan Sontag in an upcoming feature for UK-Australia production outfit Brouhaha Entertainment, with US filmmaker Kirsten Johnson to direct.
Four chapters in the tumultuous life of the celebrated and controversial 20th century intellectual will be depicted in the drama, which is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Sontag: Her Life by Ben Moser. The feature has the working title of Sontag.
New Yorker Sontag, who passed away in 2004, is known for her widely influential critical works such as Against Interpretation, On Photography and Illness As Metaphor, as well as fictional works including In America. She travelled to and wrote about areas of conflict, from the Vietnam War to the Siege of Sarajevo. Sontag also attracted controversy over statements on white civilisation in the western world, the 9/11 New York terrorist attacks and over accusations of plagiarism.
US actor Stewart, who previously depicted Princess Diana in Spencer, is president of the international jury at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival, where filming will begin for the project.
Filmmaker Johnson is known for her documentary work. She worked as a cinematographer on Laura Poitras’ documentaries The Oath – for which she won the Sundance cinematography award – and Oscar winner Citizenfour.
Her directing credits include Sundance premieres Dick Johnson Is Dead, a personal story about her father who suffered from dementia for which she won a Sundance special jury award and Primetime Emmy for directing, and Cameraperson, a memoir of her decades of shooting documentary footage around the world.
“We’re using Berlin as a moment to kick off the project and do documentary footage of Kristen as the head of the jury and talking to her about how she’s going to become Sontag,” said Gabrielle Tana, who co-founded Brouhaha Entertainment in 2021 and is producer on the project. “It will be a drama, but with a documentary aspect to it. Kirsten has a wonderful approach to storytelling, and this is reflective of that, so she will use documentary in it.”
Johnson will co-write the project with Lisa Kron as well as direct, and the feature plans to shoot this year across California, New York, Paris and Sarajevo.
Brouhaha Entertainment was founded in 2021 by UK-based Tana and Australia’s Troy Lum and Andrew Mason. Their slate includes Anton Corbijn’s Switzerland, in which Helen Mirren will play celebrated author Patricia Highsmith. FilmNation will launch sales at this month’s European Film Market.