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FREEHELD tells the true story of Laurel Hester who worked for the Ocean County police for 23 years when she was diagnosed with cancer and couldn´t transfer her pension benefits to her partner in case of her death – a routine procedure had she ...


In 2007 director Cynthia Wade made the moving documentary FREEHELD about lesbian police woman Laurel Hester from New Jersey who fought for equality which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. She is the producer of the feature film with the same name which is now coming to cinemas. The screenplay was written by the writer of PHILADELPHIA, Ron Nyswaner, Julianne Moore took over the Laurel role and Ellen Page is playing her life partner Stacey. Michael Shannon plays Laurel’s colleague Dane and Steve Carrel is a lively gay Jewish activist. Despite the brilliant team, who obviously care about the project, the film does not have the poignancy that MILK or PHILADELPHIA have. The story is nevertheless fascinating: in 2005 Laurel Hester finds out she has lung cancer. Hester had worked for the Ocean County New Jersey police department for 23 years by that point. She built a wonderful home with her life partner Stacey with a dog and a garden which she hid from her workplace. When her health deteriorates, Laurel appeals to the district council so that Stacey can get her widow’s pension in case she dies – just like what happens to straight married partners. The council rejects her by referring to the tax payers which causes a national outrage. Hester’s colleagues and gay rights activists from all over build a coalition and besiege the council meetings for months – but time is running out for Laurel and Stacey.

Hendrike Bake

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Freeheld
USA 2015, 104 min
Language: English
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Peter Sollett
Author: Ron Nyswaner basierend auf Cynthia Wade
DOP: Maryse Alberti
Montage: Andrew Mondshein
Music: Hans Zimmer
Distributor: Universum Film
Cast: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell
FSK: 6
Release: 07.04.2016


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