A Quiet Place star Millicent Simmonds and two-time Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan have officially signed on for the leading roles in Cornerstone’s forthcoming biographical drama film titled Helen & Teacher, centering around the bond between disability activist Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. Production on the project is expected to begin in the summer of 2022.
“Most people only know of Helen Keller’s story from when she was a child,” director Wash Westmoreland said in a statement (via Deadline). “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 added, “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.”
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Helen & Teacher will be written and directed by Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice), based on his original screenplay with Laetitia Mikles, in consultation with a team at the Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults. Simmonds will be portraying a college-aged version of Keller, while Brosnahan will play Sullivan, who is described as a committed yet controlling translator and companion.
“Set during the early 1900’s, the film 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,” reads the synopsis. “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.”
Interestingly, the rising young actress is a distant cousin of Keller. Her casting marks the first time that a deaf actress would be portraying the disability rights activist, who had been played by hearing actors in previous adaptations including the Oscar-winning 1962 feature titled The Miracle Worker.
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Helen & Teacher will be produced by Sukee Chew, Pamela Koffler, and Victor Paul Wajnberg, with Russ Posternak set as an executive producer. It is a production by Killer Films and Sugar23 Production. Cornerstone will be handling the international sales and distribution.