Jennifer Fox’s movie, The Tale, which screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has been picked up by HBO Films for distribution throughout both overseas’ territories and all of North America. The bidding was competitive, and HBO Films landed the movie for a seven-figure range. Variety was the first to report the news.
The story is based on Fox’s own 7th grade assignment paper, which she entitled The Tale, a fictionalized version of her true-life experience of a sexual relationship she had at age thirteen with her forty-year-old track coach. Fox states that for years she thought of their relationship as romantic and consensual, and only at age forty-five did she realize she was the victim of sexual abuse. The film is extremely crucial in the landscape of this year, reflecting the current cultural spotlight on sexual harassment and abuse.
Laura Dern (Downsizing) stars as the adult Jennifer while Isabelle Nelisse plays the younger version of the character. The cast also includes Jason Ritter (The Labyrinth), Elizabeth Debicki (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Common (Megan Leavey), Frances Conroy (TV’s Young Sheldon), and Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn (The House of Tomorrow).
It appears that Fox and HBO are a perfect match for each other, considering how much the goals and change desired to come from her film line up. She explained her process with the company and the film’s distribution, saying that, “It has always been my intent to find an engaged distribution partner who deeply understands the wide reach of the project, not just as a film, but also for the impact it can have on a larger global conversation. In a world in which stories like mine have often been pushed into the darkness, no one has been better at shining a light on storytelling and important social issues than HBO. I am overjoyed to be able to take The Tale out into the world with such a vibrant and engaged team.”
This deep connection and appreciation also obviously goes both ways. HBO Films president Len Amato emphasized this by declaring, “I can’t imagine a more timely and relevant film for HBO to have bought at Sundance. The Tale, a courageous and deeply effective memoir from acclaimed filmmaker Jennifer Fox–and starring Laura Dern in a career-defining role–is a personal journey that embraces the truth of one survivor’s experience and the power of memory. We’re honored to bring this groundbreaking and revelatory film to the HBO audience.”
The Tale will premiere on HBO, allowing it to become Emmy-eligible. It will also include a thoughtful addition: outreach for those who have suffered from sexual assault, something for which the filmmakers advocated alongside the distribution of the movie.