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Rebecca Hall on Her Family Connection to Directorial Debut ‘Passing’

At a packed New York Film Festival screening, Rebecca Hall said it wasn’t easy getting her directorial debut, “Passing,” brought to screen, but her producers stuck by her throughout the long process.

“My producers stood by me, even though I was a first-time filmmaker asking to make a movie in black-and-white, in 4:3 aspect ratio about controversial subject matter and a period film. They kept saying yes,” she said of producers Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi and Margot Hand at the Sunday night screening.

Hall had a surprising family connection to the film, based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 book of the same name. “Passing” takes place in the 1920s and follows the lives of two Black women, one of whom passes as a white woman, due to her light skin tone, and marries a white husband who is clueless about her race. Hall’s grandfather was Black but passed for white, passing down an ambiguous racial identity to the actor and her mother, Maria Ewing.

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