The term “passing” refers to a person of a specific racial group who is accepted by society as part of another racial group. In American culture, this commonly refers to an African-American or multiracial individual who chooses to ‘pass’ as white, giving up one’s heritage in order to avoid experiencing racism. The social implications of this topic were profoundly explored in author Nella Larsen’s 1929 book Passing, often regarded as one of the most influential novels of the Harlem Renaissance.
Now Rebecca Hall (Christine, Professor Marsden and the Wonder Woman) is set to direct an adaptation of this iconic book. Hall has already written the script for Passing and hired both Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnorak, Westworld) and Ruth Negga (Loving, Preacher) to star in the lead roles. The film, much like its source material, will follow the reunion of former friends Clare (Negga) and Irene (Thompson) after many years. However, upon learning that Clare “passes” for white in her current lifestyle, the two attempt to rekindle their friendship in spite of class-based, societal and racial barriers.
Hall has praised the manner in which Passing addresses “gender conventions, the performance of femininity, the institution of marriage, the responsibilities of motherhood, and the ways in which all of those forces intersect.” No release date for the film has been announced yet, but Picture Films and Sight Unseen will produce it.