Ben Lewin’s The Surrogate acquired at Sundance

25 January, 2012 by Sam Dallas

Ben Lewin’s comeback flick The Surrogate has been acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures following its screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

Fox Searchlight reportedly spent $US6 million for worldwide rights to the film that was also penned by the former Australian. Lewin now resides in Los Angeles after moving in 1994.


The LA times said the film sparked a bidding war between key distributors at Sundance, which involved The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate.

The indie drama boasts an all-star cast including Helen Hunt, John Hawkes and William H. Macy and is based on poet/journalist Mark O’Brien. O’Brien was stricken with polio at the age of six, and was left paralysed from the neck down. He spent the remainder of life in an iron lung. The flick centres on his journey to lose his virginity – something he achieves with the help of his therapist and even his priest.

“Ben Lewin has created a touching, uplifting look at one man's desire to experience life to the fullest. The brave and indelible performances by John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy left us floored,” Fox Searchlight Pictures' presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula said in a joint statement.

Born in Poland in 1946, Lewin migrated to Australia three years later. A former criminal barrister, his breakthrough project as a writer/director was for comedy/drama The Case of Cruelty To Prawns which netted Best Television Award at the Melbourne Film Festival.

He’s best known for 1988’s Georgia, starring Judy Davis, which received eight AFI nominations. Other credits include The Dunera Boys, A Matter of Convenience, Lucky Break, Ally McBeal, Touched By An Angel and SeaChange.

IF will have an interview with Lewin about his latest film next week. Keep an eye out on the IF website.