DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE: 12 Years a Slave and Brokeback Mountain outfit River Road Entertainment has joined Sally El Hosaini and James Krishna Floyd’s feature Unicorns as producer and financier.
CAA Media Finance will be selling the project at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin.
The cross-cultural romance, directed by The Swimmers filmmaker El Hosaini and Floyd, from a screenplay by Floyd, is now in post-production.
Today, we can also reveal that the film will co-star emerging British Indian R&B artist Jason Patel alongside the previously announced Ben Hardy (Bohemian Rhapsody).
Set against a secretive London subculture, the film follows a queer performer (Patel) living a double life and a single father (Hardy) working as a mechanic, whose lives collide after a chance encounter.
“When Laura Windows, our casting director, introduced us to Jason, we knew we’d found our unicorn. Jason has poured his heart and soul into this. His remarkable chemistry with Ben Hardy sizzles on screen. Ben’s mesmerising performance is truly stellar. This is Ben Hardy unlike you’ve ever seen him,” El Hosaini and Floyd said.
Floyd added: “To make my debut as writer/co-director on a story so close to my heart, alongside Sally, my longtime creative partner, is a privilege and beautiful ride.”
Bill Pohlad’s River Road will produce alongside Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray’s Maven Screen Media and Philip Herd’s Chromatic Aberration. Pohlad, Kim Roth and Christa Workman join Herd, Rattray and Styler as producers. Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) is executive producer.
Patel, who is queer, has stage credits including Jungle Book and Peter Pan. He was one of BBC Asian Network’s “Artists of the Week” in 2022 and his debut EP will be released this year.
Pohlad added: “We were thrilled by the prospect of working with Sally and when we read James’ affecting script, we fell in love with its heart and the vibrant subculture that it explores.”
Unicorns crew members include cinematographer David Raedeker BSC (The Souvenir 1 & 2), editor Iain Kitching (The Swimmers), hair and make up designer Lisa Mustafa (Top Boy), and composer Stuart Earl (Persuasion), many of whom worked on El Hossaini’s well-received debut My Brother the Devil.
Casting director is Windows (Pennyworth), production designer is Rob Wischhusen-Hayes (Argylle), costume designer is Nirage Mirage (After Love). Renowned gaysian performer and Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen Asifa Lahore is a consultant and co-producer on the film.
Additional finance is provided by Sweden’s Film i Väst / Filmgate Film and Ffilm Cymru Wales with funding from the National Lottery and Cambridge Picture Company.
El Hosaini’s BAFTA-nominated The Swimmers opened the 2022 Toronto Film Festival and subsequently played on Netflix from November, going on to reach No. 1 in 47 countries and the top 10 in 86 countries. Floyd starred in both The Swimmers and My Brother the Devil.