Julianne Moore, Ellen Page fight for lesbian rights in the movie Freeheld
All love is equal. This is the battle cry of the movie Freeheld, based on the Academy Award-winning short documentary of the same name that came out in 2007.
Given the Obergefell versus Hodges decision by the US Supreme Court of June this year, the idea of same-sex marriage is now considered a guaranteed right. However, this wasn’t the case in 2007.
The movie Freeheld, in a nutshell
The movie stars Academy Award-winner Julianne Moore as decorated New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester, who is dying of cancer. Laurel wants to pass on her pension to her registered domestic partner, an auto mechanic named Stacie Andree (played by Academy Award-nominee Ellen Page).
However, county officials– specifically, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders– refuse to allow this. As Laurel slowly fades away, others– like Laura’s former partner, Dane Wells (Academy Award-nominee Michael Shannon), and activist Steven Goldstein of the Garden State Equality (Academy Award-nominee Steve Carell)– take up the cudgels in her and Stacie’s defense.
Soon, they gather support from other police officers and ordinary citizens, as well as from national groups, to help in Laurel’s struggle as well as for the fight for same-sex equality.
The movie Freeheld, based on real life
Written by Ron Nyswaner (who wrote the Oscar-winning script for Jonathan Demme’s 1993 movie Philadelpia) and directed by Peter Sollett, the movie tries to be faithful to the documentary as much as possible in relating the real-life legal battle of Hester and Andree against the Chosen Freeholders.
(On a side note, ‘chosen freeholders’ actually pertains to the rather unique naming of the county legislature in each of the state of New Jersey’s 21 counties. In other words, these officials were the elected representatives of that county. Also interesting to note is that Ellen Page– who had come out in 2014– said that she had been involved in the project development for almost six years.)
The documentary, megged by Cynthia Waid in 2007, won an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary in 2008. However, it also won a whole slew of awards in 2007.
These range from a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, a Special Jury Award at the Seattle International Film Festival, an Audience Award and a Jury Award at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, Best Documentary Short at the New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, an Audience Award at the LA Outfest, and another Audience Award at the Boston Independent Film Festival.
The movie Freeheld was released to limited theaters last October 2. However, it will have a wider theater release on October 16.