North East feature Song for Marion to close Toronto Film Festival

Posted: 29th August 2012

Song for Marion – Paul Andrew Williams’ Northern Film & Media and Northstar Ventures’ backed heart-warming story of an unconventional choir – will gain its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

Starring Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston, Song for Marion was shot in Durham and Newcastle last summer after production company Steel Mill Pictures received a £150k boost from Northern Film & Media and Northstar Ventures’ Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund partnership.

The film is being distributed by the prolific Weinstein Co. and eOne Entertainment, will now receive its gala screening (world premiere) at Toronto - one of the elite international film festivals alongside Cannes, Berlin and Venice.

Song for Marion is the comedic drama about grumpy pensioner Arthur (Stamp) who is reluctantly inspired by his beloved wife Marion (Redgrave) to join a highly unconventional local choir. At odds with his son James (Eccleston), it is left to choir director Elizabeth (Arterton) to try and persuade Arthur that he can learn to embrace life.  Arthur must confront the undercurrents of his own grumbling persona as he embarks on a comical life-affirming journey of musical self discovery.

“The decision to close one of the world’s top film festivals with Song for Marion demonstrates the industry appetite for this feel-good movie,” said John Tulip Northern Film & Media’s managing director.

“Supported by some of the most influential names in the business, we are confident that this North East film will strike a chord with audiences across the globe and become a landmark success in Northern Film & Media’s partnership with Northstar Ventures.”

The £2.4 million public-VC Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund was the catalyst for a dramatic increase in film and television production in the region from 2010-12.

More than matched with private investment, the Fund attracted a further £5.4 million investment pool and realised a string of high-profile projects including ‘Busby Babes’ BBC drama United (David Tennant, Dougray Scott, Jack O’Connell), hitman road movie thriller The Liability (Tim Roth, Jack O’Connell, Talulah Riley, Peter Mullan) and thriller The Man Inside (Peter Mullan, David Harewood, Michelle Ryan).

“The Toronto gala screening of Song for Marion is the latest coup for our pilot fund with Northern Film & Media,” said Dr Michelle Cooper, Northstar Ventures’ investment manager.

“Our partnership has developed a portfolio of high-profile commercial film, TV and digital media investments which have boosted the North East’s creative credentials on an international stage. We believe that this public-VC model sets a blueprint for investment in the sector and are determined to secure a successor to a fund which has been an important catalyst for growth in the North East.”

The Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund is supported by the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13. The ERDF programme is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

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