Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark

The Song of the Lark

a feature film adaptation of Willa Cather’s 1915 novel

About The Film

The Story

A romantic drama set in early 1900 about a talented young musician named Thea Kronborg who leaves her small town home to pursue greatness but risks losing her true self as she rises to sing on the world’s biggest stage. Thea learns to listen and to trust her own artistic voice.

The Tone

In addition to paying homage to Jules Breton’s painting, which Thea visits in the Chicago Art Institute, author Willa Cather highlights less sentimental artworks such as a portrait of Julius Caesar or the serviceable pottery of Sinagua Artists. Taking pride in resilience over simple beauty, the film too must not over-sentimentalize Thea’s journey, instead celebrating with her the achievement of staying truly honest and listening to herself.

The Music

Nearly an opera in its own right, The Song of the Lark utilizes music to showcase the arc of Thea’s growth. The characters, natures and styles of each piece of music illustrate Thea’s inner life as she journeys from singing a simple country church hymn to Wagnerian arias.

About Willa Cather

The Author

Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather authored twelve novels, six collections of short fiction and two editions of collected poetry as well as numerous nonfiction articles, journalism, speeches and letters. Cather’s novels have been published around the world and taught in schools across the United States.

The Novel

Cather’s third novel, The Song of the Lark received four authorized English editions as well numerous editions for various Europe countries following its initial publication in 1915. Many additional printings came out once the book entered the public domain. A Scholarly Edition published by the University of Nebraska Press celebrated the books’ centennial in 2015. The novel is currently available in print and digitally for audiences everywhere.

The Legacy

In 2020, Cather’s likeness was commissioned for the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. “Seen as a regional writer for decades after her passing in 1947, critics have increasingly identified Cather as a canonical American writer, the peer of authors like Hemingway, Faulkner and Wharton.” More at willacather.org

Creative Supporters

“You really put together something wonderful with your script.”

— Ada Gorn, Producer and Vice President at Creative Compound

“Please keep me in the loop on your adaptation and don’t hesitate to be in touch if we can help in some way. I hope to see Thea come to life on the screen one day!”

— Ashley Olson, Executive Director The Willa Cather Foundation

“Working with director Samantha Shada is such a pleasure.  Sam creates such an intentional and open space to play and create.  I’ve worked with her on stage and on film, and each time I felt seen and supported as an artist.”

— Stephanie T Keefer, Actress

“I wish you every success. I’ve often said the “song of the lark” is my favorite Cather book. One of its great strengths is its relevance to young women (and all of us).”

— Ron Hull, Willa Cather Foundation board member, former Program Fund Director at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

“As an artist I tend to go into a shell and being around you, such an open spirit is good for me. Hope our friendship continues to grow and that we continue to collaborate.”

– Randy Ryan, Actor in Kagillionaire (2020), 20th Century Woman (2016)

Filmmaker Samantha Shada grew up in the mountains of Colorado and on the plains of Nebraska. Her fascination with Willa Cather began when she discovered a distant, maternal relative Virginia Faulkner, former editor of Cather collections, inaugural member of the Willa Cather Foundation and founder of the Willa Cather Archive at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Ironically, Sam’s father was born and raised a few miles from Cather’s childhood home in Southern Nebraska.

After completing her film degree at Emerson College and landing in California she worked at notable companies such as the William Morris Agency, the United Talent Agency, Universal Pictures, Overbrook Entertainment, and Sony Pictures Studios. Sam’s narrative short films premiered at the Oscar Qualifying LA Shorts International Film Festival and are available internationally on ShortsTV with DirecTV. Her feature adaptation of The Song of the Lark participated in the development programs through Joan Scheckel Filmmaking Labs, Stowe Story Labs and the Sundance Co//abs. More at www.samanthashada.com


Los Angeles, CA