“Director Aisling Walsh, Known for ‘Maudie,’ Embarks on a Musical Journey of Liberation With ‘Ethel,’ Starring ‘Unorthodox’s’ Shira Haas”

“Director Aisling Walsh, Known for ‘Maudie,’ Embarks on a Musical Journey of Liberation With ‘Ethel,’ Starring ‘Unorthodox’s’ Shira Haas”

“Director Aisling Walsh, Known for ‘Maudie,’ Embarks on a Musical Journey of Liberation With ‘Ethel,’ Starring ‘Unorthodox’s’ Shira Haas”

Director Aisling Walsh, known for her work on “Maudie,” offers a glimpse into her upcoming feature film, “Ethel,” in relatable terms. She remarks, “We all understand what it is to struggle to be the best at what we can. We’re all looking for that chance to make something happen.”

Written by Celeste Parr and produced by Marie-Claude Poulin of Sphere Media (known for “Brooklyn”), “Ethel” delves into the inspiring true story of Ethel Stark, a pioneering Canadian musician who shattered barriers in the 1940s by founding a groundbreaking mixed-race, all-female orchestra. Ethel, a violinist and conductor, achieved the remarkable feat of taking her Montreal-based ensemble all the way to Carnegie Hall, becoming the first woman to conduct there.

The talented Shira Haas, renowned for her roles in “Shtisel” and “Unorthodox,” is set to star in the film, as exclusively revealed by Variety. This Canadian-Irish co-production is targeting production to commence next year.

Walsh elaborates on the film’s theme, saying, “The film is about women finding their voice. The orchestra changed their lives. It saw them through the war, saw them through tragedy and heartbreak and loss, and also it saw them out the other side, helping them find a career. Many of them were housewives, raising children, and not necessarily pursuing their own careers. Being a part of this orchestra offered them something they had never experienced before.”

She continues, “They were losing husbands and boyfriends to the war, many of whom never returned. So these women’s lives were evolving and changing, and they had to adapt to this changing world by coming together. Together, these women achieved something that they wouldn’t have been able to individually, and that transformative experience changed their lives.”

Set against the backdrop of World War II and the growing sense of liberation in a province that had only granted women the right to vote in 1940, “Ethel” weaves this social history into the compelling personal journey of Ethel Stark herself.

“I’m interested in the solitude of the woman who actually had to run and guide them and lead this orchestra,” explains Walsh. “She was an only child who lost her own partner to the war and had to return home to live with her very traditional parents. Leading this orchestra helped her redefine herself. She brought women from different racial and class backgrounds together, helped them develop as musicians, and made them play as one. That’s kind of incredible.”

 

 

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