Based on Eileen Whitfield's biography "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood," the film will begin production in 2013 with DeLia directing from a Josh Fagin script.
Whitfield said of the title, "As young, independent artists and producers, Julie Pacino and Jennifer DeLia have a fresh and natural grasp of Pickford’s pioneering place in film. And using the title 'The First' is brilliant. A year ago, TIFF hung an exhibit in Pickford’s honor at the Bell Lightbox. Pickford was born just a stone’s throw from that location, making TIFF a great fit for supporting her legacy.”
An official description of the film follows:
THE FIRST will delve into Pickford’s life from a woman’s point of view and will illuminate the artistry, spirituality, and integrity that moved Mary Pickford through the ground-breaking and controversial world of her time. From 1892 through to her passing in 1979, Pickford was the powerhouse who, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith, created their own distribution company, United Artists, which was designed to serve the filmmakers rather than the studio heads. Known as ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ ‘Little Mary,’ and ‘The Girl with the Curls,’ the Canadian-born Pickford was one of silent film’s most important performers and had international fame that reached heights never seen before, as for the first time, an idol emerged from moving images or ‘cinema.’ She was the biggest and most beloved movie star of the time; she was the face of the American Military; she was one of the 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and she was an activist. She fulfilled missions that no one else in her time could have and no one since her could even imagine.
Recently, the AMPAS and the Mary Pickford Foundation partnered on an initiative to promote the legacy of Mary Pickford and the silent film era. DeLia and Pacino will have acces to those collections in their preparation for the film.
“We are thrilled about the new partnership between the Academy and The Mary Pickford Foundation as it is incredibly important for the public to have access to such historical images in order to become educated about the history and impact," said Pacino. "We are also excited about being in Toronto during TIFF this year as we develop our project and celebrate Pickford’s legacy in her hometown. In fact, we first learned about some of Pickford’s story through an exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.”