EXCLUSIVE: Women helping other women, this is what it looks like: Maggie Gyllenhaal is set to star in The Kindergarten Teacher, a feature based on writer/director Nadav Lapid’s acclaimed Israeli film of the same name that is being produced by Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray’s Maven Pictures and Pie Films. The film was adapted by and is being directed by Sara Colangelo (Little Accidents) for a July 10 start and another woman, Jenny Halper brought the project into Maven.
Gyllenhaal will star as Lisa Spinelli, a teacher who grows more and more numb each day in her mundane Staten Island life. When she discovers what may be a prodigious five-year old poet in her class, she becomes obsessed with the child and his talent— risking her career, family, and freedom.
The original film, which came out in 2014, was was nominated or won many critics awards around the world.
Maven Pictures’ Styler and Rattray, Gyllenhaal and the team behind the original Israeli film — Pie Films’ Osnat Handelsman-Keren and Talia Kleinhendler — are producers on the English remake. Pie Films is an Israeli production company specializing in author-driven material. It is just now expanding its productions to the English language market. The company previously produced the No. 1 box office hit in Israel The Women’s Balcony which was directed by Emil Ben Shimon; it premiered last year in Toronto.
Maven Pictures, which produced Best Picture nominee The Kids are All Right, just saw Orchard pick up a film it co-financed out of Cannes called Kings. Starring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig, the film is a drama about a foster family in South Central, set a few weeks before the city erupts in violence following the verdict of the Rodney King trial in 1992.
In addition, IFC film acquired Trudie Styler’s directorial debut, Freak Show, a film based on the James St. James novel of the same name about a cross-dressing teen. That was debuted in a sold out screening at the Berlin Film Festival and stars Alex Lawther (Imitation Game), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), Bette Midler, and Abigail Breslin. Last year, Maven produced the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner American Honey directed by Andrea Arnold.
Gyllenhaal is repped by WME and MGMT Entertainment. Colangelo is repped by WME. The agency, WME, is repping the film for distribution.