Ellen Page is set to star in Freeheld, the feature adaptation of the Oscar winning documentary by the same name, which has at long last secured the financing needed to move forward thanks to production company Incognito Pictures. Freeheld recounts the deathbed plea of Lieutenant Laurel Hester, a 23-year veteran of the Ocean County, NJ police force who asked that her pension benefits be extended to her partner Stacie Andree. Ellen Page committed to play Andree four years ago, with a script by Philadelphia screenwriter Ron Nyswaner.
Laurel Hester, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, appealed to Ocean County authorities to extend her benefits to her partner Stacie Andree. Police officers in the county would be allowed to pass benefits over to their spouse, but gay and lesbian couples were prohibited to do so. Hester and Andree owned a house together and without her benefits, Andree would not be able to afford the mortgage.
While the county first denied Hester’s appeal, protestors with a video she taped from her deathbed changed the minds of the county freeholders who announced the extension of pension benefits for registered domestic partners on January 18, 2006. She passed away a month later on February 18, 2006.
Her story became the subject of a short documentary directed by Cynthia Wade that won an Oscar in 2008 in the Best Short Documentary category. Wade is one of the producers for the feature film. Watch the trailer for the documentary below.