"It is never too late to be what you might have been."
Q’orianka Kilcher’s Te Ata Thompson Fisher Biopic Set for Fall Release
COURTESY OF PALADIN
JULY 31, 2017 | 05:22PM PT
Paladin has set an early fall release for “Te Ata,” starring Q’orianka Kilcher as Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata Thompson Fisher, Variety has learned exclusively.
The release will be timed to lead up to November’s Native American Heritage Month, the annual celebration of indigenous culture and heritage.
“Te Ata” also stars Graham Greene (“Dances With Wolves”) and Gil Birmingham (“Twilight”). Mackenzie Astin, Brigid Brannagh, and Cindy Pickett round out the principal cast.
The production company on “Te Ata” is Chickasaw Nations Productions. Paul Sirmons is the producer. Nathan Frankowski (“To Write Love on Her Arms”) directed from a script by Esther Luttrell, which is set primarily in the early 20th century and tells the story of Mary Frances Thompson, a young Chickasaw woman born in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), better known as “Te Ata,” which means “bearer of the morning.”
She was an actress, dancer, model, and storyteller who appeared on the cover of McCall’s magazine and landed several roles on Broadway. Te Ata was best known for her performances of Native American culture and traveled the U.S. and Europe performing, including at the first state dinner hosted by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 and King George VI of England in 1939 at Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, N.Y.
Chickasaw Nation governor Bill Anoatubby said, “Te Ata defied stereotypes on various levels as a Native American as well as a woman at a time when either presented difficulties and challenges. Yet she celebrated both and did so in a way that brought honor to those she represented.”
Te Ata married Clyde Fisher, a long-time scientist and educator at the American Museum of Natural History who founded the Hayden Planetarium. Famous friends and acquaintances of the couple included scientist Albert Einstein, composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Broadway actress Nanette Fabray.
Kilcher broke out at age 14 with her portrayal of Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in director Terrence Malick’s “The New World” in 2005. She appeared in the series “Sons of Anarchy,” “Longmire,” and “Neverland.”
“We are delighted to bring this story to audiences because Te Ata was a great ambassador for Chickasaw people and for all Native Americans,” Anoatubby said. “Te Ata once wrote that art binds all people together. Her career bears testimony to the truth of that noble idea. Through this film, she continues to serve as a shining example of the power of artistic expression to change hearts and minds.”
"Te Ata" Written by Esther Luttrell
2017’s Best Films By and About Women
”Te Ata tells a little known story of a powerful female leader. Q’orianka Kilcher (who needs to be cast more often) plays Mary Thompson Fisher — who later became known as Te Ata — a Native American women who spent her life going across the country educating people about Native American customs and experiences. She was so beloved that she was invited to the White House by Franklin D. Roosevelt to perform. “ - Te Ata is available to rent on iTunes, Amazon, and other platforms. It’s also on Blu-ray/DVD.
(From Top 10 women oriented films - Women and Hollywood publication
Dec. 24, 2017)
Topekans pay tribute to Native Americans
By Tiernan Shank |
Posted: Tue 10:50 PM, Nov 28, 2017
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Topeka Public Library paid tribute to the legacy of Native Americans in Kansas Tuesday night.
People from all over Topeka came together to watch TeAta. A movie about a woman who risked her life to speak about her culture around the country, written by Topeka screenwriter, Esther Luttrell.
Before she was approached to do the film, Luttrell thought she was through with Hollywood.
"I don't like what they do, I don’t like the language, I don’t like the images,” said Luttrell. “I don't like anything about Hollywood today.”
But when an opportunity about an unlikely hero came about, Luttrell couldn't pass it up.
"I never heard of TeAta and I found this gutsy, wonderful, non-feather, tee-pee Indian that I just fell in love with and admired,” Luttrell said.
Luttrell wrote the film TeAta about a Native American woman from the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, who reached fame taking her story of Indian heritage from Broadway to the White House at a time when that was against the law in parts of the country.
"It turned out to be timely and it didn't start out that way,” said Luttrell. “Here's a lady who defined everything that had to do with a woman's role in society and in life and she went about it without demonstrating anything except her abilities."
Those abilities were displayed in full screen at the Topeka Public Library Tuesday. Public Services Librarian, Miranda Ericsson, says the movie is important during Native American Heritage month to honor those sometimes hidden figures.
"People want to know the stories that haven't been told,” said Ericsson. “They're compelling and they inspire us to do better and live better."
For more information on the movie visit www.teatathemovie.com
Te Ata was directed by Nathan Frankowski, The film follows the life of a remarkable woman, Te Ata Thompson Fisher of the Chickasaw Nation. It's worth checking Wikipedia to learn about Te Ata, who was a truly a unique woman.
Q'orianka Kilcher, who portrays Te Ata, is also a remarkable woman. Her father is of indigenous Peruvian descent. She spent many years in Hawaii, and she has absorbed the indigenous Hawaiian culture as well.
The film is historically accurate. The Chickasaw nation was unwillingly forced to become part of the state of Oklahoma. In the early 20th Century, prejudice against Native Americans was as strong in Oklahoma as it was throughout the United States.
What makes this movie so interesting was that Te Ata rose above these prejudices to present the stories of indigenous people to the rest of the world. She performed in the White House and before the King and Queen of England. She is the type of person whose life cries out for a film biography, and I believe this movie does her justice.
We saw Te Ata at the Rochester's excellent Little Theatre. It was presented as part of the wonderful High Falls Film Festival: Celebrating Women in Film. This movie is both entertaining and important. It will work better in a theatre than on the small screen. However, even on a small screen, it will repay your effort to seek it out and see it.
International Movie Data Base
Mary Thompson was a representative of the Native American culture. She worked hard to go to college. While at school, she met a theater arts professor, and that is where Te Ata (Mary’s name in the Chickasaw nation) would portray the stories of her heritage.
Over the years, she performed for any people, including high government officials. She told the stories that were handed down from generation to generation. She has a passion to inform the people of the songs and tales of many different cultures of Native Americans. She was an encouraging person in a time when the government was not very accepting of the Native Americans.
“Te Ata” is a very interesting story of tradition and encouragement. It teaches a lesson that you should follow where God sends you and do what you’re meant to do. We are very proud to award “Te Ata” with the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages.