Bille August films 55 STEPS with Hilary Swank, Helena Bonham Carter and Jeffrey Tambor

"55 STEPS" (German title: "ELEANOR & COLETTE") tells the stirring story of two extraordinary women and their special friendship in a great struggle for human dignity.

The film is based on the true story of Eleanor Riese, a patient in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco who, along with her attorney Colette Hughes, fights against forced medication and for the right to bodily integrity.

At the same time, the film shows two strong characters who, despite a difficult start and Eleanor's complex personality, develop a deep friendship with each other in addition to fighting for justice.

Two-time Palme d'Or winner and Oscar winner Bille August (THE BEST VIEWS, PELLE, THE CONQUER, LES MISÉRABLES, THE HOUSE OF THE GHOSTS) directs this important and moving film from a screenplay by Mark Bruce Rosin (CHATTERBOX!). Filip Zumbrunn, who has already worked with the exceptional Danish director on NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON, is responsible for the visual design.

An all-star cast has been secured for the international co-production. Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank (MILLION DOLLAR BABY, BOYS DON'T CRY) plays attorney Colette Hughes. The role of Eleanor Riese has been taken by two-time Oscar nominee and seven-time Golden Globe nominee Helena Bonham Carter (THE KING'S SPEECH, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, HARRY POTTER). Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Tambor (TRANSPARENT, HANGOVER I - III, HELLBOY I and II) stars as Professor Mort Cohen, who mentors and serves as lead attorney for the dedicated Colette.

Anita Elsani (elsani film, Cologne), Sara Risher (Los Angeles), Mark Bruce Rosin (Los Angeles) and Lesley Neary (Los Angeles) are the producers behind this extraordinary film project. Anita Elsani is responsible for the production with elsani film GmbH has brought the project to Germany. Peter de Maegd and Tom Hameeuw (Potemkino Port, Belgium) are co-producers as well as Bastie Griese and Philip Borbély (MMC Movies, Cologne). The production is being made as a German-Belgian co-production.

Anita Elsani on the film project: "We are very pleased that we have succeeded in bringing international stars to Cologne and producing the film as a German production company. It's quite extraordinary that we are filming this American story here in Europe and also taking the lead as producer."

Bastie Griese on 55 STEPS: "We at MMC are very proud that together with Anita Elsani we were able to set up this outstanding international co-production from NRW with a real star ensemble. 55 STEPS shows once again what great projects can be realized here with the support of the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW. Personally, I am of course also pleased that with 55 STEPS we can continue the very pleasant and successful collaboration with Elsani Film on OB YOU WANT OR NOT."

55 STEPS is supported by the German Federal Film Fund, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, the Belgian regional funding Screen Flanders and the Belgian Tax Shelter.

Filming of 55 STEPS began in San Francisco in mid-April 2016. However, the main part of the filming takes place at various locations in NRW. The studio shots are being made in the MMC Studios in Cologne.

55 STEPS is scheduled for release in German cinemas in 2017. World distribution will be handled by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Los Angeles.

elsani film GmbH
Contact person: Anita Elsani
Brabanter Str. 53
D-50672 Cologne
Tel.: +49 221 510 85 85


Photo: "ELEANOR & COLETTE" aka "55 STEPS" - l-r. Writer Mark Bruce Rosin, producer Lesley Neary, co-producer Bastie Griese (MMC Movies), executive producer Laurie Shearing, leading actress Helena Bonham Carter, director Bille August, leading actress Hilary Swank, producer Anita Elsani (elsani film), Petra Müller (Film- und Medienstiftung NRW), actor Jeffrey Tambor and actress Cynthia Hoppenfeld at MMC Studios in Cologne. © Bernd Spauke