Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl are currently filming the latest film by New Zealand writer and director Niki Caro, The Zookeeper’s Wife.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a true story, based on the book by famed naturalist Diane Ackerman, of Antonia Zabinski and her husband Jan, the zookeeper at the popular Warsaw zoo in Poland in 1939. Warsaw was one of the first cities bombed when the Nazi’s invaded Poland. Most of the zoo was destroyed, but the Zabinski’s were allowed to stay living in the villa they occupied on the property. The Zabinski’s hid, and saved the lives of over 300 Jews, living ‘as guests’ in their home and in the remains of the bombed-out zoo buildings, some were still housing animals.
Diane Ackerman secured the unpublished diary of Antonia Zabinski, from which she wrote her best selling and highly acclaimed book. In 2008, The Zookeeper’s Wife won the annual Orion Book Award. The committee noted, “The Zookeeper’s Wife is a groundbreaking work of nonfiction in which the human relationship to nature is explored in an absolutely original way through looking at the Holocaust.”
Niki Caro is no stranger to creating films with profound story lines. She wrote and directed Whale Rider, the story of a Maori girl who upsets the ancient custom of her tribe, where only males are allowed to become chief. When the boy selected to become the next chief dies at birth, his twin sister, played by 12 year old Keisha Castle Hughes, desires to break with tradition and claim her birthright by training for chiefdom. She must convince the current leader of the tribe, her Grandfather,that she is capable and deserving of the honor. Keisha Castle-Hughes was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. It’s nice to see Keisha as a grown-up, currently starring in the ensemble cast for Cameron Crowe’s Showtime hit, Roadies.
Next up after Whale Rider was North Country, starring Charlize Theron and Frances MacDormand. Both women were nominated for Oscars. Charlize was nominated for Best Actress, and Frances for Supporting Actress, for their roles as the first women working in the iron mines of Minnesota.
The adaptation of the script for the Zookeeper’s Wife is by Angela Workman who has written a romantic drama about New York City Ballet dancer Tanaquil Le Clercq, loved by both George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, for The Weinstein Company, and is currently writing a dramatic adventure about the 19th century opium wars between China and Britain, for LD Entertainment.
The Zookeeper’s Wife opens March 31, 2017
– story by Pamela Perry