Based on biography Sister Kenny: The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors by Victor Cohn, adapted into the screenplay Most Admired Woman by Becca Johnstone, the feature film will focus on the story of bush nurse Elizabeth Kenny during the polio epidemic that swept the world in the first half of the 20th century. Disregarded by the patriarchal establishment, and alienating those closest to her, Kenny’s unorthodox treatment resulted in thousands of children’s lives saved and her, ultimately, being honoured as the “World’s Most Admired Woman”, beating Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Becca’s script is powerful, funny and incredibly moving,” said Aquarius’ Angie Fielder and Polly Staniford in a press release. “She is an enormously talented writer who has crafted a perfectly pitched triumph of the human spirit story with a complex and thoroughly entertaining female protagonist. We took this project on as we were interested in telling a story about a remarkable woman who is an unsung hero. As COVID is for this generation, polio was the most urgent health crisis of its era, so telling the story of the amazing work that Elizabeth Kenny did in the face of that terrifying disease feels particularly resonant now.”
“We’re proud to be telling the story of Elizabeth Kenny – a largely forgotten Australian crusader who overcame intense prejudice to provide hope to families at a time of unimaginable panic,” added Decade’s Ray Quint and Andrew Handelsmann. “Risking her life to rescue children from the ravages of polio, this inspiring and poignant true story explores the timeless struggle of those who dare to defy the expectations of their gender and class. We’re delighted to be collaborating with Becca and the Aquarius team on this exciting project.”
Now, who’s going to play the lead role and who will direct? Perhaps Cate Shortland could be lured back to follow up Black Widow? She did work with Staniford on Berlin Syndrome. And, how about Naomi Watts as Kenny? We’d pay $20 at the cinema to see that.