BRAVE HEARTS – FEATURE SCREENPLAY (GRACE RETITLED)
In 1840, an unconventional widow risks her life when she joins forces with a charismatic journalist, brutalized tenant farmers and a traumatized exile she rescues in Montreal, to stop the most powerful men in Scotland from violently evicting Gaelic Highlanders, unaware of her own family’s complicity in the ethnic cleansing.
RECOMMENDED BY THE AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL COVERAGE PROGRAM
“Grace is an iconic, Oscar-worthy heroine who deserves to have the movie named for her.”
Austin Film Festival reader, 2014
“One of the best things about the script is that it is very clear why this story is relatable and relevant to a modern audience. The story of the Highland Clearances is very relevant in the days of the Occupy movement and the One Percent. It can be a movie for the times.”
New York Screenplay Contest, 2014
“This is, in its own quiet way, though it lacks the epic battle scenes of Braveheart, just as emotionally compelling…Grace is a product of her time and she fights in ways that are unique to her sex…She uses a woman’s power to accomplish her goal…It’s not easy, in a movie that focuses on the more privileged character of Grace, to turn the downtrodden masses into actual living, breathing characters rather than simply symbols…It is rare for a screenplay to read as so visually evocative.”
Table Read My Script Reader, 2014
“…a powerful and often harrowing story. We see the tragedies and injustices through a very human lens – both the crofters [tenant farmers] from Altnaharra and the remarkably complex and often contradictory Grace…a compelling and often devastating story of greed and corruption as well as bravery and loyalty.”
PAGE AWARDS Script Reader, 2015
“The concept of one brave woman standing up against injustice has been successfully used before (“Silkwood”, “Norma Rae”, “Erin Brockovich”) but this script raises the bar. It is a heartfelt, passionate and timely indictment against complacency and turning away from unpleasant subjects. The characters seem like real people and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
ScriptDoctor Contest of Contests Reader, 2015
Atlas and Aeris Magazine (Boston, USA)
Grace presents the Highland Clearances in a way that is ready for the screen. Already embedded into the screenplay is a strong sense of cinematic drama. The movement of characters and cameras is choreographed, and from Scotland’s countryside to the opulence of its 19th-century interiors, the screenplay frames perspectives to communicate the story’s atmosphere, historical context, and competing interests. Quick shots and cuts between scenes prescribe a film that moves quickly, jumping across oceans, between classes of society, and even through time to recall traumatic memories. The writers juxtapose terrible cruelties with aristocratic finery to great effect. The dialogue is snappy and precise. And as befits the medium, the screenplay frequently propels the story forward by omitting unnecessary dialogue, communicating important details without impeding the momentum. When characters do speak, it is meaningful and well-articulated. Symbols unify the story, polish its transitions, and elevate the work to an artful drama with a clear vision.
The Monthly Film Festival (Glasgow, Scotland)
“Grace” isn’t just a story about the Gaelic people, it is a basic battle of good versus evil, right versus wrong, strong versus weak, oppressor versus oppressed. We see these stories all around us in the world, people fighting for their land, for what is right, for their principles. There is evil in this world, and the story of Grace teaches us how to fight it, even when you have no clear means to do so. She teaches us how we should never give up in the face of tyranny, never accept wrong doing. She teaches us to speak up for what we think is right and to never back down in the face of criticism.
For us, this screenplay has been emotional, it didn’t take long for us to find ourselves attached to the characters, to care about them, to try and view it all through their eyes, and to think what we would’ve done if placed in those dire situations.
There is and always has been a tension between the strong and the weak, those with power always seem to take advantage of the weak, even when that might not be true, even when their goals are pure, they still remain those with the power, and for that they are held to higher standards. It is always difficult to see how people with power find it easy to oppress, from their high chair, behind their palaces, they speak evil and legitimize it. And so what we see in this story here is a representation of how people with power like to abuse that power, to take advantage of the poor, the weak. This, of course, is nothing new in film.
The interesting part in the story is actually derived straight from who Grace is, we’re just going to say it bluntly: Grace is a woman. We are big supporters of equal rights, but they didn’t exist back then. A fact that is shown multiple times in this story. And rightly so. Like Jean d’Arc and other iconic female heroes from history, Grace shows that even women can give us all a lesson when it comes to right and wrong. And that is the essence of this story.
Another element worth noticing is the approach, we specially like the use of Gaelic, trying to give a true perspective of those days and of the Gaelic people’s story.
These are the reasons why this story can be such a successful one on screen, in bringing to light in modern times a lost story of persecution, of good versus evil. Showing us once again how politics and power tempt mankind to do the most evil things. But most importantly, the story of a woman who against the odds raised her people to fight for what is right.
This historical drama set in 1830 is about a Scottish woman born into privilege whose quest for social justice compels her to join the struggle against the ethnic cleansing of Gaelic tenant farmers, sharpening her conflict with family and pitting her against tyrannical forces.
Today, Canada is home to tens of thousands of descendants of these dispossessed farmers who emigrated from Scotland between 1780 and 1850.
What started out as a fictionalized account of Jeffrey Russel’s ancestors based on family documents, grew into a project exploring the Highland Clearances, one of the most grievous crimes against humanity during that period of history.