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Johnny Depp is war photographer W. Eugene Smith in the Minamata trailer

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Vertigo Releasing has acquired the UK and Irish distribution rights from HanWay Films for Minamata, directed by Andrew Levitas and starring three-time Academy Award® nominee Johnny Depp as celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith. The film will be released in the UK and Ireland on 12 February 2021 and Vertigo have released the international trailer and a new poster for the film.

New York, 1971. Following his celebrated days as one of the most revered photojournalists of World War II, W. Eugene Smith (Johnny Depp) has become a recluse, disconnected from society and his career. But a secret commission from Life magazine editor Robert Hayes (Bill Nighy) sends him to the Japanese coastal city of Minamata, which has been ravaged by mercury poisoning; the result of decades of gross industrial negligence by the country’s Chisso Corporation.

There, Smith immerses himself in the community, documenting their efforts to live with Minamata Disease and their passionate campaign to achieve recognition from Chisso and the Japanese government. Armed with only his trusted camera, Smith’s images from the toxic village give the disaster a heartbreaking human dimension, and his initial assignment turns into a life-changing experience.

Based on the shocking true story, MINAMATA is a redemptive and emotional tale of triumph over adversity, and of how all of us have it within ourselves to make a difference.

The film also stars Hiroyuki Sanada, Minami Hinase, Jun Kunimura, Ryo Kase, and Tadanobu Asano.

The victims’ case against the corporation responsible for this environmental disaster represents one of the biggest payouts of all time, with present-day sufferers of Minamata disease still in court today seeking compensation. Production spent time in Minamata meeting some of the victims and their families and the film was made with their support.

Andrew Levitas commented; “I am humbled and pleased that so many wonderful distributors, NGOs, and institutions around the world have joined us in our effort to bring light and voice to the people of Minamata and all of those who are forgotten, oppressed, and left voiceless. This uplifting story of hope, passion, and community reminds us that alone we may be the parts per million, but together we are the millions.”

Rupert Preston, CEO of Vertigo Releasing, said of their latest acquisition, “Minamata is an important, moving and powerful story that is beautifully told. We can’t wait for British audiences to discover it.”

MINAMATA was developed by Infinitum Nihil and produced by Sam Sarkar, Johnny Depp together with Andrew Levitas through Metalwork Pictures. The film had its world premiere at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival and will be released worldwide during the upcoming awards season.

Producers are Sam Sarkar, Bill Johnson, Gabrielle Tana, Kevan Van Thompson, David K Kessler, Zach Avery, Andrew Levitas and Johnny Depp.

Executive Producers are Jason Forman, Stephen Deuters, Peter Touche, Stephen Spence, Peter Watson, Marie-Gabrielle Stewart, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Nobu Hasegawa and Joe Hasegawa.

HanWay Films who is overseeing international sales and distribution has also closed deals with; Eagle Pictures (Italy), Swift Distribution (France), Odeon S.A. (Greece), Films4U (Portugal), BG Filmcilik (Turkey), Beta Film (Bulgaria), Discovery Film (former Yugoslavia), Forum Film (Poland), Exponenta Film (CIS), FrontRow Filmed Ent (Midde East), Rialto Distribution (Australia/NZ), Longride Inc (Japan), Intercontinental Films (Hong Kong), PVR (India), Shaw Organisation (Singapore), Fox Networks Group (SE Asian Pay TV), Cai Chang International (Taiwan) and M Pictures Ent (Thailand).

MINAMATA will be released in the UK and Ireland on 12 February 2021.

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