Millicent Simmonds, the deaf star of A Quiet Place Part 1 and 2 and Wonderstruck, is teaming up with Emmy-winning Marvelous Mrs. Maisel lead Rachel Brosnahan for Helen & Teacher, set to tell the story of famed deaf, blind and disability rights activist Helen Keller.
The film comes from Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice, Colette, Earthquake Bird) and will see Simmonds — actually a distant cousin of Keller’s — play Keller, with Brosnahan as Anne Sullivan, her committed yet controlling translator and companion.
Cornerstone will handle international sales and distribution and will launch sales at the upcoming American Film Market. UTA Independent Film Group and WME are overseeing the U.S. sale.
Based on an screenplay by Laetitia Mikles and Westmoreland, in consultation with a team at Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults, the film will be set during the early 1900s, following 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 Sullivan is courted by the young and brilliant publisher, John Macy, tensions escalate between the two women threatening the bonds of their friendship.
“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,” said Westmoreland. “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.”
A Killer Films and Sugar23 production, Helen & Teacher will be produced by Sukee Chew (The Silencing, Burn) and Pamela Koffler (Halston, Colette, Carol). Victor Paul Wajnberg (Earthquake Bird, Colette) and Russ Posternak (Stowaway, Becky) will executive produce. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2022.
“We are looking forward to re-introduce one of the most famous teacher-student relationships in modern history,” said
Cornerstone’s Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder. “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.