The Help is a 2011 period drama film written and directed by Tate Taylor and based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast, including Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer, and Emma Stone. The film and novel recount the story of a young white woman and aspiring journalist Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan. The story focuses on her relationship with two black maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. In an attempt to become a legitimate journalist and writer, Skeeter decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids, exposing the racism they face as they work for white families. Black domestic workers in 1960s America were referred to as "the help", hence the title of the journalistic exposé, the novel and the film.
DreamWorks Pictures acquired the screen rights to Stockett's novel in March 2010 and quickly commissioned the film with Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, and Brunson Green as producers. The film's casting began later that month, with principal photography following four months after in Mississippi. The film is an international co-production between companies based in the United States, India, and the United Arab Emirates.
Touchstone Pictures released The Help worldwide, with a general theatrical release in North America on August 10, 2011. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing $216 million worldwide and receiving positive reviews from critics, who mostly praised the acting (particularly that of Davis, Spencer, Chastain, and Stone), though the film's depiction of race drew some criticism as having a white savior narrative. The Help received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress for Davis, and Best Supporting Actress for both Chastain and Spencer, with the latter winning the award. The film also won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.