“Unorthodox” and “Shtisel” star Shira Haas is set to headline “Ethel,” a period musical drama about the true story of Ethel Stark, the groundbreaking conductor who founded the first all-female orchestra in Montreal.
Aside from breaking barriers in the music world, Stark has been credited for championing social change across gender, race, language and class starting in the 1940s.
Aisling Walsh, the Irish-born filmmaker of “Maudie” and the BAFTA-winning “Elizabeth Is Missing” will direct the film from an original screenplay by Celeste Parr (“Gurov and Anna”).
The female-powered project is part of a growing slate at Sphere Films, the Montreal-based banner (formerly known as MK2/Mile End), which is now run by Charles Tremblay. Marie-Claude Poulin (“Brooklyn”) will be producing “Ethel” for Sphere Media. Sphere Films will distribute “Ethel” in Canada.
Sphere Films will also release “Out Standing,” based on the memoir of Sandra Perron. The film will explore Perron’s experience of being Canada’s first female infantry officer and the fight against a system of institutional sexism. Mélanie Charbonneau (“Fabuleuses”) will direct the movie. Producers are Marcel Giroux (“No Trace”) and Julia Rosenberg (“Charlotte”).
These titles join Sphere Films’ recently announced movie “The Braid,” which is currently shooting in Canada with Kim Raver (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Fotini Peluso (“Romanzo famigliare”) and Mia Maelzer (“Beyond the Clouds”). The film is based on the international bestseller by Laetitia Colombani, who also directs. SND is handling international sales on “The Braid,” which tells the story of three women from different parts of the world who have never met but are bound by something intimate and unique.
Sphere Films is currently at Cannes with two Canadian films, Charlotte Le Bon’s feature debut “Falcon Lake,” which premiered at Director’s Fortnight, and David Cronenberg’s thought-provoking dystopian film “Crimes of the Future,” which will be released in North America on June 3.
“The addition of these titles to our already strong slate is a testament to the incredible talent in our industry. It’s a privilege to be part of sharing such important and vibrant stories,” said Tremblay. He adds, “[It’s great] to be back at the Cannes Film Festival with [“Crimes of the Future”], one of the most anticipated films of the year and to be able to celebrate our collective return to cinema in a very meaningful way.”