courtesy of Paladin)
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
"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 Jeannie Barbour and 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,
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
As a companion piece to the dramatic feature, the Chickasaw
Nation has also completed a documentary about Te Ata titled "Bearer
of the Morning." It's also in post-production on "The Chickasaw
Rancher," re-teaming director Frankowski with Mackenzie Astin, and
also starring Dermot Mulroney.