EXCLUSIVE: Anonymous Content optioned both life rights and a book written by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician whose groundbreaking research revealed that an entire generation of children were exposed to unsafe levels of lead in Flint, Michigan. The feature film will be written and directed by Cherien Dabis, and produced by Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Rosalie Swedlin. The untitled book will be a dramatic first-hand account of the crisis that has inspired global outrage because underprivileged children were harmed due to scandalous neglect and indifference by bureaucrats that shocked the country. “This is not just the story of a Michigan city and its toxic water,” said Hanna-Attish, called Dr. Mona by most. “This is a personal story of how I, as an Iraqi-American immigrant, came to be a pediatrician in Flint and it is a story of science, medicine, justice, and democracy; of how they all intersect, and, ultimately, what we humans owe to each other. It is critically important to share the Flint story to spotlight that the crisis is ongoing and long-term support is still needed. My hope is that telling this story will also prevent anything like this from happening again, especially in a political environment that questions science and undermines environmental and public health protections.” Chris Jackson is helping Dr. Mona edit her book.
Dabis is producer of such series as Empire and Quantico and she direct Amreeka which won the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight. Sugar is one of the producers on Best Picture winning expose Spotlight, and Swedlin’s producing credits include Live From Baghdad. “This is a story of one woman’s perseverance to do what’s right in the face of unbelievable government deniability during what would become one of Michigan’s, and possibly the nation’s, biggest man-made health crises,” Swedlin said. “It is a story of how Dr. Mona, dubbed an ‘unfortunate researcher,’ risked her career standing up for what was initially a local issue but that ultimately grew to have national and global implications. Public health policy has been made better today because of what one woman dared to do that others would not.”
Said Dabis: “Like Dr. Mona, my father is a pediatrician. Because of him, I’ve always had a keen interest in public health and medicine. When I read about Dr. Mona and the incredible work she’s done to expose the water crisis and her crusade on behalf of the people of Flint, it hit me on a deep and personal level. Her courage, compassion and sheer determination to fight for this cause enlivens a fire in all of us, and it’s this spirit that will guide the film’s journey.”
Publishing film rights to Dr. Mona’s upcoming book — published in April 2018 by Penguin Random House imprint One World — were represented by WME. Dabis is represented by WME, Peikoff Mahan, and Anonymous Content.