THR is reporting that Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all rights to Aisling Walsh’s Irish/Canadian co-production Maudie.

SPC’s deal covers all rights in the U.S. and multiple other territories including the U.K., Latin America, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Scandinavia, Turkey, as well as parts of Eastern Europe, Asia and South Africa.

The film is based on the life of Nova Scotia folk artist, Maud Lewis, and is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family. She also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.

Maudie is directed by Song for a Raggy Boy director Walsh and written by Sherry White (CrackieRelative Happiness).The film shot in Canada with Guy Godfree as cinematographer. Post-production took place in Windmill Lane, with Stephen O’Connell as editor. Susan Mullen of Parallel Film Productions produces, alongside Small Shack Productions, and Painted House Films. Financing comes from the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Mongrel Media, Telefilm Canada, Newfoundland Film Development Corporation, Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Harold Greenberg Fund, and Corner Piece Capital.

The film is currently playing at a number of Canadian film festivals, having premiered at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival and playing at the Toronto International Film Festival. It has drawn strong praise for the performances of both leads, with Hawkins in particular being talked about as a potential awards contender.

Speaking on the news director Aisling Walsh said:

I am delighted that Sony Pictures Classics have come on board to distribute Maudie. They have an amazing record of bringing indie films to the widest audience possible, and I am so excited to be working with them.

Sony Pictures Classics presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard said:

Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke are astounding and surprising, making Maudie an illuminating film experience.

Mongrel International president Charlotte Mickie added:

Maud Lewis, the artist and the woman, triumphantly found her ideal home and true happiness within. Maudie, the movie, has done the same with our dear friends at Sony Classics and with independent distributors all over the world. We’re so proud and we are looking forward to wonderful collaborations.

The news is great for the film’s award chances as Sony Pictures Classics has a strong record of getting Oscar nominations and awards. Recent films in their collection include Blue Jasmine, Whiplash, Foxcatcher, Son of Saul, and the strongly favoured forthcoming release Toni Erdmann.

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