Director Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice) has tapped rising star Millicent Simmonds (A Quiet Place) and Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), to star in Helen & Teacher about famous Deafblind activist Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan, her committed yet controlling translator and companion.
Simmonds, who will star as Keller, is in fact a distant cousin of the author and disability rights advocate.
Set during the early 1900’s, the movie will follow Keller’s tumultuous time at Radcliffe College of Harvard University when her rapidly expanding worldview and sexual awakening brings her into direct conflict with the more conservative Sullivan. When Ms. Sullivan is courted by the young and brilliant publisher, John Macy, tensions escalate between the two women threatening the bonds of their friendship.
Cornerstone will handle international sales and distribution and will commence sales at next month’s American Film Market. UTA Independent Film Group and WME are overseeing the U.S. sale.
Helen & Teacher is based on the original screenplay by Laetitia Mikles and Westmoreland, in consultation with a team at Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults.
A Killer Films and Sugar23 production, the film will be produced by Sukee Chew (The Silencing) and Pamela Koffler (Carol). Victor Paul Wajnberg (Colette) and Russ Posternak (Stowaway) will executive-produce.
Principal photography is scheduled to begin summer 2022.
Westmoreland previously won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for Quinceañera, and his film Still Alice earned Julianne Moore an Academy Award for Best Actress. Both films were recipients of the prestigious Humanitas Prize for screenwriting.
Director Wash Westmoreland commented: “Most people only know of Helen Keller’s story from when she was a child. Helen & Teacher will look at her as a young adult when she developed a radical, world-changing political voice. Today, when some TikTok threads dispute Helen Keller’s achievements and even her existence, it is time for a film that shows her relevance, her brilliance, and her unbreakable spirit.”
Cornerstone’s Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder commented: “We are looking forward to re-introduce one of the most famous teacher-student relationships in modern history. The lifelong work on disability rights by these two remarkable women paved the way for future generations. What better way to do it than with this talented creative team.”
Simmonds is represented by WME and Circle of Confusion, Brosnahan by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Mikles by Verve and Sugar23, and Westmorland by UTA.