First Athena List Film 'Little Pink House' to Open 2017 Edition of Female-Focused Festival (Exclusive)

Little Pink House - Still 1 - H 2017
Courtesy of Athena Film Festival

Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn star in the based-on-a-true-story film about working-class homeowners trying to save their land from Pfizer.

The first completed film from the Athena List, the Athena Film Festival's female-focused version of The Black List, will screen as the opening-night movie at the 2017 edition of the festival. Writer-director Courtney Moorehead Balaker's screenplay for Little Pink House was a finalist on the 2015 edition of the Athena List, a slate of unproduced screenplays with strong female protagonists.

The film, starring Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn, is based on the true story behind the Supreme Court eminent domain case of Kelo vs. City of New London. Keener plays small-town nurse Susette Kelo, who emerges as the reluctant leader of her working-class neighbors as they try to save their homes from political and corporate interests trying to seize the land and turn it over to Pfizer. Their battle goes to the Supreme Court, which in a 5-4 decision, found for the city, allowing government officials to bulldoze a neighborhood for a multibillion-dollar corporation.

The Feb. 9 screening will be followed by a Q&A with Balaker and the real Susette Kelo.

Balaker said in a statement, "Bringing Susette’s story to the screen has been a passion of mine for years and I’m very honored by the Athena Film Festival’s invitation to open the festival. Susette just wanted to live in peace, but when faced with a choice between fighting or having her neighborhood bulldozed, she chose to fight the powerful bullies who were threatening her blue-collar community. Susette is a model of courage and defiance, and Catherine Keener’s outstanding performance perfectly embodies Susette’s spirit and drive. I’m grateful to the Athena Film Festival for showcasing her story and for giving Little Pink House the opportunity to come full circle from Athena List Finalist to opening night film."

Athena Film Festival co-founder Kathryn Kolbert added, “We strive to showcase inspiring films about audacious women from all walks of life. Opening the seventh annual Athena Film Festival with a true story about one woman’s passionate fight for justice is a perfect way to open the festival."

Fellow festival co-founder Melissa Silverstein also said, “Little Pink House highlights an incredible message of woman’s courage against all odds and standing up for what is right, which is especially important in today’s society. This is the first film from the Athena List program to be made and the fact that it will open the festival is an enormous thrill for all of us.”

The 2017 Athena List, now sponsored by Amazon Studios, will be unveiled Feb. 10 at the Athena Film Festival. The seventh annual festival dedicated to celebrate female leadership will take place Feb. 9-12 at New York City's Barnard College.