The first project to receive development funding via Studiocanal’s Australia and New Zealand-focused Cultivator Fund is Helena, a biopic about the Polish-Australian-American cosmetics businesswoman, art collector and philanthropist Helena Rubinstein.
The film, set in 1928, follows Rubinstein at the height of her powers, with salons in Melbourne, London, Paris and New York all booming. However, she faces a challenge that forces an incredibly difficult decision: give up control of her empire or lose her marriage with Edward Titus and her children.
The script will be penned by Katherine Thomson (Answered by Fire) and produced by Antony Waddington (The Eye of the Storm) and Marcus Gillezeau (Storm Surfers 3D, Scorched). No director has been announced as yet.
Studiocanal established the Cultivator Fund last year with aims to further the growth of local stories from Australia and New Zealand. Helena has also received support from Scripted Ink and Create NSW.
On Helena, Studiocanal head of sales & acquisitions and development manager Greg Denning says: “It’s an inspirational story of a true social and entrepreneurial trailblazer whose worldwide legacy continues to this day. Helena’s timely story will no doubt captivate audiences both here in Australia and around the world. It’s an exciting project that Studiocanal is very proud to be partnering with through our Cultivator Fund”.
Waddington says: “A challenging aspect of taking an idea from inception, through development and into production in Australia is the ‘starting from scratch’ element of raising funds for each draft of a screenplay. This also adds considerable time to the process.
“This exciting position, for which we thank Elizabeth Trotman and Greg Denning of Studiocanal, Tim Pye of Scripted Ink, and Create NSW, allows us to proceed with complete focus on the creative process. Our writer Katherine Thomson will be fully supported throughout script development with this finance pathway secured. To this day, Rubinstein’s rags to riches story of self-invention is inspiring and staggering to contemplate.”
Gillezeau says: “It’s exciting to bring to the big screen this compelling and important story about an extraordinary woman who began her rise to fame and fortune in the cosmetics industry in rural Australia, before taking to the world stage. Her story of balancing the demands of family life along with managing an empire that spanned several continents and employed over 10,000 staff at its peak, will resonate strongly with contemporary audiences.”