Even in a society fueled by thought control, the unthinkable can happen. A new HBO film, “Fahrenheit 451,” portrays this dystopian world.
The film is a modern adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic novel of the same name, which depicts a future where the “media is an opiate, history is rewritten and ‘firemen’ burn books,” said Gloucester-based filmmaker Sarah Green, an executive producer of the film.
“Fahrenheit 451” will have its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this Saturday and will air on HBO starting next Saturday, May 19.
An advance screening of the movie will take place Tuesday at Cape Ann Cinema & Stage. Admission is free, though donations will be taken to benefit the Gloucester Writers Center.
“I am excited to bring ‘Fahrenheit 451’ to Gloucester, as we have such a lively arts community,” Green said. “The Gloucester Writers Center offers opportunities for all kinds of storytellers, whether experienced or exploring their voices for the first time.”
A post-screening Q&A will follow with Green and “Dear Sugars” podcast host Steve Almond, the author of “Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country.”
Green has a long list of credits, which include an Oscar nomination for best picture for “The Tree of Life,” which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2011. She has produced many other Oscar-winning and -nominated films, including “Loving,” “Midnight Special,” “Mud,” “Frida,” “State and Main,” and “The Secret of Roan Inish.”
Just over a year ago, Green received a call from Len Amato, president of HBO Films, to tell her about an “extraordinary new interpretation” of Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” which he was developing with Ramin Bahrani.
Green later ran into Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon, with whom she has worked often. Shannon starred in Bahrani’s “99 Homes,” and he touted the work of the director and screenwriter.
“The respect I have for (Shannon), and for Len Amato and HBO, caused me to take the idea very seriously,” said Green, who read “Fahrenheit 451” when she was a student at Rockport High School.
“When I read the script, and then reread the book, I saw how relevant it is to our world now, in which online algorithms determine the news we see, the entertainment we are pitched, and the products we are exposed to,” she said. “The script was originally set in a science-fiction future, as Bradbury had done back in the ’50s, but it became quickly apparent that almost everything he predicted in the novel exists today, in some form. It felt more real, more frightening, to set the story tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.”
Green said that she was excited to “share this prophetic story — in which firemen start fires rather than putting them out.”
“If we aren’t careful, Bradbury’s vision of a world in which literature and art are illegal simply because they stimulate people to think and to question the status quo could easily be upon us,” she said.
The script was co-written by Iranian film director Amir Naderi and Bahrani, who also directs. The film stars Michael B. Jordan, a lead actor in the blockbuster “Black Panther”; Shannon, who most recently starred in “The Shape of Water”; and Sofia Boutella, whose credits include “Star Trek Beyond” and “Atomic Blonde.”
Rob Newton, founder of Cape Ann Cinema & Stage, said that he is thrilled to host the event and applauded Green’s work.
“I’ve been an avid Ray Bradbury fan since my bookmobile days in the 1970s, so I’m very excited about seeing such a pedigreed, modern-day interpretation of the story,” he said.
Henry Ferrini, one of the founders of the Gloucester Writers Center, echoes the sentiment about the depth of this work.
“The film has a great deal of relevance to our times, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity,” he said.
If you go
What: Screening of HBO’s “Fahrenheit 451”
When: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Cape Ann Cinema & Stage, 21 Main St., Gloucester
How much: Free
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