FROM SLUMS TO THE STARS
About the FilmJillian Haslam’s story has all the makings of success achieved by many acclaimed books and films that are considered “classics” and are part of the global cultural canon: A powerful, personal, yet universal tale of human experience and resilience, and a story that thematically digs into the issues of our time—social injustice, racism, and the global gender and wealth gap. Furthermore, the story has entertainment value as it is both educational and emotionally compelling. It balances the harsh reality and unspeakable darkness of Jillian’s life with her inspirational grit, passion, and resilience to find beauty in the moment and embrace the challenges of life—a message many people are looking for to make sense and derive hope during this global pandemic. In the competitive landscape of books, film, and entertainment, Jillian’s powerful global platform and following are also major bonuses in setting her apart from the rest of the competition. It is not only the size of her platform, but the range of fields she’s active in that make her a compelling personality and person of interest for a film project: She is an accomplished author whose first book sold 250,000 copies. She is a renowned, sought-after motivational speaker in the educational, inspirational, and corporate worlds. Last, but not least, she is an award-winning philanthropist and founder of a network of nonprofits, which builds her credibility as someone who’s not just inspirational, but also walks the walk. Jillian’s story addresses important gender related issues that during the pandemic have come to the forefront of the international community on greater scale than ever before. Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic when it comes to the pay gap, domestic violence, leadership positions, and economic opportunities, and there is a push in government and media to highlight the stories of women who have faced adversity and prevailed. Finally, there’s been a strong trend of page-to-screen adaptations, and many of the subjects and/or authors are women. Not only that, but stories of resilience and overcoming adversity penned by women have been the subject of several blockbusters in recent years, including Eat Pray Love, Wild, The Glass Castle, The Theory of Everything, and A Mighty Heart. Many more recent memoirs are slated to be adapted to film, including Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and Educated by Tara Westover. The Story perfectly falls into this category of books by women who face hardship and overcome challenges to find themselves, inspiring a message of hope, resilience, and empowerment (see comparative titles).
Jillian’s story is a true life story of inspiration and hope of a young girl cowed by poverty, illness, malnutrition and grief in the worst possible environment finding the ability to speak up and ask for help not for herself but to try and alleviate the suffering of those she loved and those around her.
She grabs the one opportunity life affords her – a charity place at a local boarding school and uses sheer determination to not be defined by her start to carve out a life for herself. Despite achieving relative success in career and material terms Jillian finds her calling in helping the underprivileged and is truly happy only when she is trying to help others find a road out of poverty that she experienced herself. As she turns this into a full-time career, she finds a degree of happiness and recognition by being recognised by Mother Teresa’s order by receiving the Mother Teresa memorial international award.
The various anecdotes from Jillian’s life recounted via the means of flashbacks take the audience on a journey of horror at the conditions where she grew up, danger as they fled local militia trying to kidnap her sister, hopelessness as they almost die on the journey and her father suffers a stroke and goes blind while the mother and two young toddlers live under the stairs in a slum, humour at how the family finds humour and fun despite their horrible surrounds, despair then hope as Jillian aged ten is determined to save her infant sister who has been written off as too weak to survive but Jillian finds her voice in her determination to keep this baby alive and how through hard work and determination she makes a life for herself and supports her family and many others along the way before turning her back on her career and devoting herself to helping the poor back in Calcutta.
The vehicle to relate the stories as via fictional character of Frank an American journalist who Jillian meets on the plane who is well off, empowered sceptical but sad and is used to bring out the contrasts in where the two stories have started and ended up which can deliver the message of not being defined by your start but by your actions and attitude. The B story of the journalist is resolved by Jillian helping him when he overcomes his attitude and asks for help to a situation here he can resolve his own family issues but the audience can work out for themselves if he has learnt enough to make that happen or not.
Besides Jillian and Frank the other important characters in the script are Jillian’s parents – whose extreme circumstances have led them to be in poverty and with so many mouths to feed but they are determined to do the best they can for their many children and give them the right values and an education to help them improve their lives. There is an element of two people with British ancestry caught in a strange land fighting their circumstances and doing what they can to keep their family unit going.
Jillian’s three sisters Donna, Vanessa and Susan – who at different points in the incidents have a relevant part to play and help build out the story.
Involved in the completion and delivery of around 100 films, Huw’s list of producer credits includes Interlude in Prague, Damascus Cover, The Man Who Knew Infinity (Co-Producer), Patagonia, The Edge of Love, and Cold Mountain (Executive Producer)
To be confirmed
Helen Clare Cromarty is a British screenwriter, executive producer and author. Born in Tettenhall, Staffordshire, England, she trained as a teacher and gained a B.Ed from Bangor University.
Following three years teaching in primary schools, she began freelancing as a script reader, script editor, and script writer. And the rest is history!
Helen co wrote the screenplay Interlude in Prague with Brian Ashby and John Stephenson, from an original story by Brian Ashby, and went on to set up the film project.
Jillian Haslam has been appointed Executive Producer to ensure the story is authentically told and accurately reflects how she used resilience to overcome major obstacles life put in her way in order to succeed and to give back.
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