Unorthodox star Shira Haas is now set to headline the period musical drama Ethel, according to an exclusive Variety report. The musical will tell the true story of Ethel Stark, the conductor who founded the first all-female orchestra in Montreal.
Born in Quebec in 1910, Stark studied music from an early age. She played the violin, studying music at the McGill Conservatory of Music in Canada. She founded the Montreal Women’s Symphony at only twenty-nine years old in 1940. She conducted for the orchestra until 1960. Throughout her life, Stark was known to fight for social equality in gender, race, language, and class.
Aisling Walsh will direct the film from an original screenplay by Celeste Parr. The female-led project is part of a growing number at Sphere Films, exploring extraordinary Canadian women. Marie-Claude Poulin will produce Ethel for Sphere Media. Sphere Films, which is run by Charles Tremblay, will also distribute the film in Canada.
According to the exclusive Variety report, Tremblay stated, “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.” He added, “[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.”
Haas, who will lead the new project, is an Israeli actress best known for her work on the Netflix series Unorthodox, a German-American project primarily using Yiddish, a first for the streaming network. The series followed Esty, a nineteen-year-old Jewish woman who is living unhappily in an arranged marriage in an ultra-Orthodox sect in Brooklyn, New York. She runs away to Berlin, Germany to pursue a secular life. But her husband, after finding out that she was pregnant, attempts to find her in Germany. Haas has worked on both stage and film for much of her career, making her an excellent fit for this role.
No release date has yet been set for Ethel.