After stunning audiences and critics with her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Princess Diana in 2021’s Spencer, Kristen Stewart is set to play another legendary woman of the 20th century: the writer, philosopher and activist Susan Sontag. Stewart will portray the famous writer in Sontag, which will be directed by documentary filmmaker Kirsten Johnson.
According to ScreenDaily, which first reported the news, the film will be based on Ben Moser’s 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Sontag: Her Life, and will cover four chapters in the eventful life of Sontag, whose work continue to be both celebrated and criticized today. Sontag, who passed away in 2004, was known for critical works like On Photography (1977), as well as fictional works like The Benefactor (1963), Death Kit (1967) and In America (2000). Her widely-read 1964 essay “Notes On Camp” experienced a revival in popularity after the Met Gala made camp its 2019 theme, prompting an examination of the term. Famously a New Yorker, Sontag became a feminist icon to some and an inspiration to female writers of the era. She also reported on the AIDS epidemic and criticism of the Vietnam War, which wasn’t always met with admiration. At the time of her passing, she had been in a relationship with photographer Annie Lebowitz for 15 years.
The project is reportedly set to start filming at the Berlin Film Festival, where Stewart is jury president. “We’re using Berlin as a moment to kick off the project and do documentary footage of Kristen as the head of the jury and talking to her about how she’s going to become Sontag,” producer Gabrielle Tana said. “It will be a drama, but with a documentary aspect to it. Kirsten has a wonderful approach to storytelling, and this is reflective of that, so she will use documentary in it.”
Tana also co-founded Brouhaha Entertainment, the UK-Australian production company that will make the film. In addition to directing, Johnson will cowrite the project, which will be filmed this year across California, New York, Paris and Sarajevo, with Lisa Kron. This will be Johnson’s first time directing a drama following her critically-acclaimed documentaries Cameraperson (2016) and Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020).
In addition to Spencer, Stewart also took on another high-profile biopic recently as Jean Seberg in 2019’s Seberg, about the actress’ relationship with the Black Panther Party. Showing true range, she also recently starred in two science fiction horror films: David Cronenberg’s 2022 film Crimes of the Future, 2020’s Underwater, and the delightful 2020 lesbian rom-com Happiest Season.