Mary Anning film to premiere at Lyme Regis Fossil Festival

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A mother and daughter appear in a new film about palaeontologist Mary Anning, which premieres in Dorset next month.

Director Sharon Sheehan began writing and researching the film in 2000 after a trip to Lyme Regis with her daughter.

In the biopic, she plays Anning in her adult years, while her daughter, Katy Hamilton, is the young Mary.

Sheehan, who collaborated with numerous experts on her research, says the film is "as near as we can possibly get to the exact story of her life".

The film stars Jenny Agutter as Miss Philpott, Mary Anning's mentor, and was partly shot in Lyme Regis, where Anning lived and made her historic discoveries.

Sheehan worked with palaeontologists, academics and institutions, including the Natural History Museum in London, to piece together the details of Anning's life.

"The film goes from her early life to her death at the age of 47 from breast cancer and all the trials and tribulations of trying to get recognition for her research," she said.

"I started writing it when my daughter was really small. Lots has happened in between."

Sheehan's previous films include Golden Brown, which she wrote, produced and directed.

The 2011 film also featured her daughter, who was six at the time.

When asked about working with her daughter again, she said: "I thought it would be difficult but she was fantastic. She was helping with ideas for shoots, we went costume hunting together."

Sheehan said her own parts in the film were directed by Agutter, who she has also worked with on previous projects.

She said: "We filmed the first part of the film in 2007 and that helped us raise funds for the second part, which was completed in 2018.

"We were able to edit during Covid, then there was post-production, sound and special effects.

"It's been a long time coming."

Mary Anning and the Dinosaur Hunters will be screened at Lyme Regis Marine Theatre on Sunday 9 June as part of the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival.

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