EXCLUSIVE: David Heyman drama gears for March shoot, Protagonist to sell at EFM.

Alicia Vikander has been confirmed to star in anticipated First World War drama Testament of Youth, produced by BBC Films and Heyday.

Protagonist will introduce the project to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin this week. Start of shoot is scheduled for March 16.

In the centenary year of the first world war, the in-demand Vikander will play writer and feminist Vera Brittain who is best-remembered for her First World War memoir, Testament of Youth.

James Kent, who directed episodes of hit TV series The White Queen and Heyday’s TV movie The Thirteenth Tale, will make his feature debut.

Producers are Gravity and Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Rosie Alison.

Juliette Towhidi has adapted Brittain’s famed 1933 memoir in which a young woman overcomes the prejudices of her family and hometown to win a scholarship to Oxford. After falling in love with her brother’s brilliant friend Roland Leighton who is then sent to fight in the First World War, Vera volunteers as a nurse and travels to France in order to help the war effort.

The ensemble cast is currently being assembled.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be bringing Vera Brittain’s powerful and passionate memoir of war, love and remembrance to the screen,” Heyman told Screen.

“We needed a remarkable actress to capture Vera’s range and complexity, so I’m completely delighted that the exceptional Alicia Vikander has taken on this role. And I am excited to be working with director James Kent whose sensibilty is perfectly matched to Juliette Towhidi’s deeply moving script.”  

Testament of Youth is one of the most potent and moving war memoirs ever written”, added BBC Films head Christine Langan. “In this centenary year, there can be few more significant ways of examining the First World War and its phenomenal impact on twentieth century life and beyond.”

Swedish-born Vikander exploded onto the international scene with an eye-catching performance in A Royal Affair. She has subsequently starred in Anna Karenina and The Fifth Estate and most recently completed Alex Garland’s Ex Machina with Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson and Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant.