TIFF 2023: Who is Hillary Baack, the Close To You actress, and why does Helen Keller resonate with her?
‘Close To You’ plays for general audiences at TIFF 2023 one final time today at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
and live on Freeview channel 276
‘Sound of Metal’ star Hillary Baack is set to challenge preconceptions and shed new light on the life of the iconic disability rights activist, Helen Keller, in an upcoming biopic. In an interview conducted at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside Elliot Page and director Dominic Savage ahead of the screening of Page’s new film, ‘Close To You’, Baack shared her excitement about portraying a different facet of Keller's life on the silver screen.
"Her story is always something that's meant a lot to me. I remember as an adult I watched The Miracle Worker again, and I was like, wait, what else happened after she was seven and said, 'water'? I started reading about her and just found so many incredible things about her life that I didn't know, and I felt like most people didn't know," the actress revealed.
"I, of course, as a deaf and disabled woman myself, felt such a personal and deep connection with her, and I saw her just as a woman and a human. Most people just don't see her that way, and I thought it would be exciting to share and tell that story and really tell her story as a human, not so much an inspiring character that we look up to and say, 'How did she do that?' but to really get to know her."
While Keller's story is well-known through adaptations of her 1903 book, ‘The Story of My Life,’ such as Arthur Penn's 1962 film ‘The Miracle Worker,’ Baack seeks to explore the untold chapters. As an adult, Baack revisited Keller's story and felt a deep connection with her. Inspired by Keller's life beyond the iconic water pump scene, she delved into the lesser-known aspects of Keller's journey.
Baack, herself a deaf and disabled woman, recognized Keller as a fellow human being, and not just an inspiring character. She aims to present Keller's story as a profoundly human narrative rather than merely a tale of inspiration.
Who is Hillary Baack?
Hillary Baack is an accomplished American actress and writer whose remarkable journey in the world of entertainment has been shaped by her deep passion for the stage and an unwavering determination to overcome challenges. Born in Orlando, Florida, Baack's love for theatre ignited at a tender age when her parents introduced her to the magic of live performances. By age seven, she was already treading the boards in her first community theatre role as Gretl von Trapp in "The Sound of Music."
In addition to her film endeavours, Hillary Baack has showcased her talents on the stage, including a one-woman show in New York. Her diverse acting portfolio includes appearances in short films, TV episodes, and full-length features. She even co-wrote and starred in the romantic comedy ‘You & Me’ in 2018 alongside her husband, Alexander Baack, who is a director and producer.
What makes Hillary Baack's story even more remarkable is that she is deaf, a challenge that she faced head-on with unwavering determination from a very young age - and perhaps why she finds the life of Helen Keller and the film ‘The Miracle Worker’ so poignant.
What is ‘Close To You’ about?
The synopsis for Elliot Page’s new film, ‘Close To You,’ reads: “Sam (Elliot Page) hasn’t been home since his transition, and after four years in Toronto, he takes a long-dreaded trip back to Cobourg for his father’s birthday. On the train there, he runs into Katherine (Hillary Baack), a friend from high school with her own complicated life now, and feelings from their unresolved past begin to bubble to the surface.”
“It’s a serendipitous encounter, as Sam worries about seeing his family after so much time apart — not for fear that they’ll reject him, but because of the unsolicited comments and questions he’ll receive about his transition, placing the weight of his family’s ignorance and discomfort squarely on his shoulders.”
When is ‘Close To You’ screening at TIFF 2023?
‘Close To You’ screens one more time for public audiences today, Monday September 11 2023, at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto at 12:15pm EDT.
How can I get tickets to screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival?
There are three ticketing options available for the Toronto International Film Festival 2023 once again. They are:
- Curated Ticket Packages. On sale in June, these packages provide guaranteed access to multiple screenings or events with a common genre or theme, with screening dates, times and seating locations selected by TIFF. A great option for film lovers who want seats locked in for their favourite programme.
- Individual Tickets. Purchase tickets to screenings one-by-one and get the exact seat you want. The best way to get a ticket to the films you want to see the most. Tickets are on sale in August, with Members having priority access.
- Flexible option. For Members, save 20% on Regular screenings when purchasing a ticket bundle. This option will only be available on the TIFF Festival Account Manager.
Tickets range between $26 to $32 Canadian dollars for regular screenings, then $39 to $88 Canadian dollars for premium screenings.