Jessica Chastain Wants ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ to Create Hope Amid Our Current ‘Political System’ (Exclusive Video)

TIFF 2017: Drama tells the story of Catherine Weldon, a 1890s artist who sets out to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull

“Woman Walks Ahead” tells the courageous story of a woman setting out to accomplish a dream, decades before women had the right to vote. And that’s why Jessica Chastain hopes her new film will create hope, especially given our current “political system.”

“I wanted to do the film because I was shocked about the story of Catherine Weldon,” Chastain said about the film at TheWrap’s interview studio at the Toronto International Film Festival. “This is 30 years before women had the right to vote and she went to North Dakota because she decided she wanted to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and meet him.”

Chastain continued, “It was so dangerous and so courageous and shocking at that time — and for her to not be recognized as the heroic woman she was … I really responded to this very unconventional love story about two people that are oppressed in society and through this love, they find hope. Right in the time when our country is being formed. It’s a beautiful story and I’m hoping it will create hope in our political system and different groups today.”

“Woman Walks Ahead” follows Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn who sets out to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and quickly becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over their land. The film stars Michael Greyeyes as Sitting Bull, probably one of the most famous chiefs in Native American history.

Director Susanna White added, “One of the things I love about this movie is it’s not dealing in archetypes, it’s dealing in real people — Catherine is not like a woman you normally see in a Western, where men are men and women are on the periphery. She’s a thinking, feeling person who did an extraordinarily brave thing… in these times we need to understand each other as human beings and look what we have in common rather than what divides us and I think this film is all about connection.”

Watch the video above.