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Feature-length movie about heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman to be filmed in Virginia

Governor Northam announced today, Sept. 20, that the Focus Features production, Harriet, will film in Central Virginia this fall. It will be the first feature-length film to tell the story of heroic abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.

Harriet is set to star Tony Award®-winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and Tony Award®-winner and Grammy Award®-winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton). Gregory Allen Howard (Ali, Remember the Titans) penned the script and will also produce the film alongside Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Debra Martin Chase. The film will be helmed by acclaimed director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou).

The film chronicles the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery and later helped hundreds of people escape captivity via the network of safe houses and secret routes known as the Underground Railroad.

Governor Northam was quoted as saying in the news release, “Harriet presents a tremendous economic opportunity for the Commonwealth both during filming and beyond, thanks to the impressive exposure a film of this scope and profile offers. We are confident this project will help pave the way for future industry growth and continue to point a powerful spotlight on all Virginia has to offer.”

“The Commonwealth’s film production industry is a fast growing sector of the Virginia economy with an annual total economic impact of almost $697 million, supporting nearly 4,300 full-time equivalent jobs and providing more than $27 million in state and local taxes in 2016,” according to Brian Ball, Secretary of Commerce and Trade.

Harriet is eligible to receive a Virginia film tax credit and grant. The exact amount will be based on the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased, and deliverables including Virginia tourism promotions.

The Virginia Film Office is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the state agency charged with marketing the state of Virginia. Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2017, visitors spent $25 billion, supporting 232,000 jobs and contributing $1.73 billion in state and local taxes.

For information about Virginia’s film production industry, go to the Virginia Film Office website at

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