Woman Walks Ahead tells the incredible true story of New York portrait artist Catherine Weldon, who travels alone to the Wild West’s Dakota territory to paint the great Chief Sitting Bull. Set in the late 1800s, the story shows Weldon befriending Sitting Bull and finding herself involved in the Native American people’s struggle over their rights.
The real Weldon, born Susanna Carolina Faesch, became a huge advocate for Native Americans after spending some time with the Sioux. Unfortunately, we all know how it ended for Chief Sitting Bull and his people. In the 2002 historical book Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull, we learn that Catherine used her advocacy in the form of offering her secretarial services to Sitting Bull, since he could not read or write in English. Her service was useful until she began to oppose Bull’s Ghost Dance movement, which she believed would give the U.S. military a reason to jail or kill him. This, plus the Wounded Knee Massacre later the same year, proved Weldon right, resulting in a terrible tragedy for the Native American people.
Woman Walks Ahead was written by Oscar-nominated writer Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) and directed by Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns). Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond) produces the film alongside Traffic producers Richard Solomon and Marshall Herskovitz, Erika Olde (Home Again) and Andrea Calderwood (The Last King of Scotland).
Two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain plays Weldon and can also be seen in the forthcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix, IT: Chapter Two, Apple’s untitled holiday comedy with Octavia Spencer and The Division with Jake Gyllenhaal. All that’s on top of playing Ingrid Bergman in the still-developing Seducing Ingrid Bergman. Newly crowned Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also stars, with Michael Greyeyes (Fear of the Walking Dead) as Sitting Bull.
Woman Walks Ahead, distributed by A24, arrives in theaters on June 29. See the first trailer below.