The film adaptation of the Oscar-winning short documentary Freeheld is finally gearing up for production, with Julianne Moore and Zach Galifianakis joining Ellen Page in the cast.
When Freeheld hit the festival circuit in 2007, the 40-minute long documentary made a huge impact, winning no less than 14 festival awards, including the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. When its director Cynthia Wade collected the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in February of 2008, the film received an even greater boost in interest and, by 2010, Ellen Page was attached to star in the narrative re-telling, with a screenplay by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, The Painted Veil).
This real-life story is one of extraordinary courage in the face of adversity, as respected New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and discovers that her long-term girlfriend – Stacie Andree – cannot receive the pension benefits that would have been awarded were she in a relationship with a man. Hester and Andree embark on a campaign to get the County pension policy changed by five elected men – known as Freeholders – and meet shocking resistance from many quarters. As the battle gains momentum, the dying Hester works toward her final goal – justice for her devoted life partner, Stacie.
Often, with long-gestating projects such as this, the initial cast list undergoes many changes, as actors move on and commit to more certain endeavours. With Freeheld, however, Ellen Page has never wavered in her involvement. She remains attached to play the role of Stacie Andree, the young car mechanic faced with the double tragedy of losing her beloved partner to a terrible cancer and having their long union diminished and effectively erased by the leaders of the community they had both long served.
The move toward production has now gathered pace, with the news that Julianne Moore has signed on to play the determined Laurel Hester, with Zach Galifianakis coming aboard as activist and supporter Steve Goldstein. At the helm of this long-anticipated movie is Peter Sollett (Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist), who has been attached to direct since 2012. The director of the source material – Cynthia Wade – will produce, along with Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg, Kelly Bush Novak, Jim Stern and Jack Selby.
With such dedicated support from the immensely talented Page, the much-nominated Nyswaner, and the documentary director Cynthia Wade, coupled with the dual powerhouses Julianne Moore and Zach Galifianakis, Freeheld has the potential to be a passionate exploration of a sensitive but important moment in history. With cameras hoping to finally roll this summer, audiences will soon be able to wonder at the remarkable tale of Hester and Andree, and celebrate the legacy of their tireless work.
Source: The Playlist