EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Charlie Matthau is close to finishing the independent feature The Book of Leah starring Armand Assante, which tells the story of a teenage rape victim who rebuilds herself as a karate fighter and seeks revenge on her attacker.
Brianna Joy Chomer plays Leah Gold, who after sneaking into a night club with her friends, is sexually assaulted in 1980s Chicago. The police do not take her case seriously, trying to blame Leah for being a minor, and the way she dressed. Her high-class family, embarrassed by the incident, sends Leah to a girls school, where she ultimately meets her uncle, played by four-time Golden Globe nominee Assante, who is a Holocaust survivor.
More than another female Karate Kid film, there are layers in The Book of Leah which echo a lot of what we’ve read lately about sexual assault; how alleged victims like Christine Blasey Ford and Patti Davis remained quiet about their incidents for several decades for many reasons. The Book of Leah puts a spotlight on the injustice that rape victim weather; the disbelief some face by those in authority after pointing a finger at their attackers.
In the film, Assante’s Adam Siegel forms a strong bond with Leah and builds her into a karate champ. Also starring in the pic is jazz singer and pianist Freddy Cole in his first feature role as a musical mentor to Leah, Kate Linder as Leah’s mother, Ty Olwin as the love interest, and Melanie Neilan as Leah’s friend.
Based on a true story, The Book of Leah was written by Leslie Neilan and Alan Roth. Neilan also produces with Kenneth Atchity. Matthau’s directorial credits include such pics as the 2012 feature take of Elmore Leonard’s Freaky Deaky starring Christian Slater, Billy Burke and Crispin Glover as well as 1995’s The Grass Harp based on the Truman Capote novel in which Matthau directed his Oscar-winning father Walter Matthau, Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. The Grass Harp won best English Language Film at the 1996 Palm Springs Film Festival.