Tag Archive | "Hamptons International Film Festival"

“Gabriel” a Local Highlight at the Hamptons International Film Festival

Tags: , , , , ,


Rory Culkin on the Shelter Island ferry in "Gabriel."

Rory Culkin on the Shelter Island ferry in “Gabriel.”

By Annette Hinkle

Director Lou Howe in Riverhead.

Director Lou Howe in Riverhead.

This weekend, the 22nd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) offers a full slate of documentary, narrative and short films at theaters in East Hampton, Southampton, Montauk, Westhampton Beach and right here in Sag Harbor.

The festival runs from Thursday to Monday and films featured in the HIFF represent perspectives by filmmakers from around the globe. But also in the mix are movies made closer to home and among the offerings in this year’s Views From Long Island section is “Gabriel,” an indie film from writer/director Lou Howe which will screen at the Sag Harbor Cinema this Friday evening.

The film is Mr. Howe’s first feature-length project. It garnered some favorable buzz at the Tribeca Film Festival when it premiered there in April — and much of the film was shot right here on the East End, including in Sag Harbor.

“Gabriel,” stars Rory Culkin as a young man suffering through a mental breakdown while his concerned mother and older brother struggle to cope with his delusions and get him the help he needs. When the film opens, Gabriel has just been released from a psychiatric facility, but rather than heading straight home to his family, he boards a bus to Connecticut with intentions to track down a high school girlfriend. Gabriel plans to propose to her — despite the fact the two have had no contact for five years.

This is just one the many delusional fantasies Gabriel (or Gabe as he insists on being called) explores after he goes off his meds. As he sinks deeper into a world of his own making, Gabe evades his family by chasing unrealistic dreams and vague childhood memories in New York City and on Long Island. At times, Gabriel’s frightening irrationality and poor judgment make him a threatening on-screen presence. Yet as an actor, Mr. Culkin never turns his character into stereotype and instead manages to keep Gabriel intense, but extremely sympathetic at the same time.

It’s a fine line to walk in a portrait of mental illness and given the astute handling of the material in the script, one might suspect that Mr. Howe has had first-hand experience with it in his own life.

“I have a close childhood friend who was diagnosed with a mental illness when he was a freshman in college,” explains Mr. Howe. “We grew up together and that experience affected me deeply. It felt like something that could be an effective story.”

“Once I started to write it, it became totally fictional,” he adds. “It sprung out of the experience with my friend and his family dealing with him.”

Mr. Howe also credits Mr. Culkin for having the skill to effectively pull-off the subtleties of Gabriel’s complicated on-screen persona.

“I think getting to the human side came naturally and was not at all a challenge for me or Rory – that was the original connection we made,” explains Mr. Howe. “It wasn’t about the illness or the way he doesn’t fit in the world. It was Gabe, a person, and on some level understanding him and his basic wants and needs.”

“The way Rory works is very similar to what I was hoping to do with the movie,” adds Mr. Howe. “We were able to open up to each other and talk through our childhoods and things that are inside to build Gabe’s internal life and figure out what’s going on in his head as specifically as possible. We had trust that creating an inner world that felt authentic would come out the way it should.”

Mr. Howe, a graduate of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) filmmaking program, lives in Los Angeles, but he’s a native New Yorker who has spent a good deal of time on the East End, which is why he decided to come here in the winter of 2013 to shoot much of the film. Sag Harbor doubles as Connecticut in one of the film’s first scenes, a farmhouse on the East End serves as Gabe’s mother’s upstate New York home and the script’s climactic action takes place on Shelter Island.

It’s all familiar territory for Mr. Howe.

“My aunt, uncle and cousins grew up in East Hampton year round and are still there,” says Mr. Howe. “I grew up going to East Hampton in summers and I got married there.”

“It’s a big part of my life. I have a lot of happy memories there and it’s a place that made sense for the ending,” he adds. “Once we thought about it, there were so many locations that would work for other parts of the script. It was so nice for me to be in a familiar place the whole time.”

Now that Mr. Howe, named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2013 New Faces of Independent Film, has his first feature-length effort under his belt, he feels his vision as a filmmaker is set.

“AFI is really production heavy,” explains Mr. Howe. “I made six or seven shorts in two years. It was great practice in the actual process of making a movie. It took coming through that process to figure out what kind of movies I want to make.”

“This film is different than what I’ve made before — and is much more in tune with what I want to do in the future,” he adds.

“Gabriel” screens at Sag Harbor Cinema on Friday, October 10 at 6:30 p.m. Rory Culkin and Lou Howe are scheduled to attend. For a schedule of all HIFF screenings and events (including “A Conversation With…” discussions at Bay Street Theater with filmmakers and actors Patricia Clarkson, Joel Schumacher, Laura Dern, Hilary Swank and Mark Ruffalo) visit http://hamptonsfilmfest.org. 

“Still Alice” Will Close Hamptons International Film Festival

Tags: , , , , , ,


Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in "Still Alice."

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in “Still Alice.”

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), October 9 through October 13, announced this week the festival will close with the U.S. premiere of “Still Alice,” on Monday, October 13 at Guild Hall in East Hampton. The film stars Julianne Moore as Alice Howard, a happily married linguistics professor who is idsgnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The film also stars Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin.

“St. Vincent” will open the festival at Guild Hall on Thursday, October 9. Starring Melissa McCarthy as Maggie, the film centers on a single moves into a new home in Brooklyn, leaving her 12 year-old son in the care of a new neighbor, Vincent, played by Bill Murray. The film is directed by Theodore Melfi and also stars Naomi Watts.

“We are really looking forward to opening our 22nd edition with Theodore Melfi’s charming “St. Vincent” starring Bill Murray in a role he was born to play. Closing our festival with the US premiere of “Still Alice” featuring a mesmerizing performance from one of the great actors of our generation, Julianne Moore, is sure to be a moving end to five days of films from around the world,” said HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent.

For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.

 

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 15 to 17

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


"Pont de Tournelle" by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

“Pont de Tournelle” by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art, films, and alternative energy; there’s plenty to do on the East End this weekend:

 

“Water 2014″ opens at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor on Saturday, August 16, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m.

The annual exhibition features contemporary and classic photography “depicting life in and around the most powerful force of nature,” said the gallery. Dan Jones, Karine Laval, Herb Friedman, John Magarites, Blair Seagram, Tulla Booth, Anne Gabriele and Jay Hoops will show their work at the gallery, which is located at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

 

Furthering on your water weekend, visit the Parrish Art Museum for the Maritime Film Festival, a 70-minute screening of short film selections, on Friday, August 15, at 7 p.m.

The program includes a brief talk by artist Duke Riley, a live musical performance and a special sampling of Sag Harbor Rum.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118.

 

Hosted by Alec Baldwin, the Hamptons International Film Festival presents “Last Days in Vietnam,” on Saturday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m.

The documentary, produced and directed by Rory Kennedy,  follows United States soldiers during the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, when the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon as the South Vietnamese resistance crumbled.

A question and answer session will follow the screening, which will be held at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call the box office at (631) 324-4050.

 

The East End Climate Action Network will host its first annual Sustainability and Renewable Energy Fair on Saturday, August 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the grounds of Miss Amelia’s Cottage in Amagansett Village.

The event features exhibitions from leading companies in the sustainability and renewable energy fields, as well as informal lectures from energy and environment experts, local food and fun games and other activities for kids. Local artists will perform at the end of the day.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read "The Tempest" at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read “The Tempest” at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

There will also be opportunities to get involved in local sustainability and climate change efforts, including solar energy consultations, beach clean-ups and membership sign-ups for local environmental groups. For more information, visit Renewable Energy Long Island.

 

Celebrating the launch of The Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative, Bay Street Theater will present two outdoor staged readings of The Tempest starring Tony award-winner John Glover as Prospero, on August 16 and 17.

On Saturday, the first performance is a VIP benefit held on a private waterfront estate on Shelter Island. The evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by a 7 p.m. reading, includes a reception with the cast.

Sunday’s reading, which is open to the community free of charge, also starts at 7 p.m. at a thus far undisclosed location. There will be bleacher seating, although guests are encouraged to bring chairs, picnics and blankets. The reading will take place as the sun sets, with the stars coming out as Mr. Glover reads Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

For more information, call the Bay Street box office at (631) 725-9500.

SummerDocs Series Returns to Guild Hall

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


ebert

“Life Itself”, a documentary about film critic Roger Ebert (left), kicks off the Hamptons Internation Film Festival’s SummerDocs season this weekend. Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit Kevin Horan.

By Mara Certic

Since its inception in 2009, the Hamptons Film Festival’s SummerDocs series has screened dozens of documentaries—four of which have gone on to win Academy Awards.

Curated by artistic director David Nugent and board member Alec Baldwin, the series screens four new documentaries over the summer, each one followed by a Q&A hosted by Mr. Baldwin with either the director or a subject of the film.

“He and David Nugent watched them all and made the determination,” said Anne Chaisson, executive director of the HIFF. “It’s really about finding the best that’s out there.”

The series kicks off at Guild Hall on Saturday, June 21, with “Life Itself,” based on the memoir of the same name written by highly regarded film critic Roger Ebert. The film has a slew of executive producers, including Martin Scorcese, and was directed by Steve James, who rose to fame in the early ‘90s when his film “Hoop Dreams” was named “best movie of 1994” and given “two thumbs up” by none other than Siskel and Ebert.

The film chronicles the life of the writer and critic: From his accidental entry into journalism to revolutionizing the business of film criticism and winning a Pulitzer Prize, “Life Itself” also shows a glimpse into Mr. Ebert’s battle with cancer.

In 2002, Mr. Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer, which resulted in the removal of his lower jaw and his inability to speak for the last seven years of his life.

“He’s a soldier of cinema who cannot even speak anymore, and he plows on and that touches my heart very deeply,” filmmaker Werner Herzog says of Mr. Ebert in the film.

“Life Itself” received rave reviews after its world and European premieres at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. “Very moved by Steve James’s “Life Itself“ Roger Ebert doc at Sundance” tweeted Kenneth Turan, Film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio.

This Saturday’s screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Mr. Ebert’s widow, trial attorney Chaz Ebert. The film will be released on July 4 in the United States and distributed by Magnolia Pictures.

The second film in the series will be shown on Friday, July 25. “Keep on Keepin’ on” is the directorial debut of Australian Al Hicks; it documents the unlikely and meaningful relationship between Justin Kaulflin, a 23-year-old blind piano prodigy, and his mentor, jazz-legend and trumpeting great Clark Terry, “CT,” whose past pupils have included Miles Davis and Quincy Jones.

The combination of Mr. Terry’s failing health and Mr. Kaulflin’s debilitating nerves invoke a nostalgic poignancy throughout the film, critics have said. During one scene, Mr. Terry lies in bed using an oxygen tube on as he critiques Mr. Kaulflin, who plays next to him. Mr. Terry laughs as Mr. Kaulflin masters a fast-paced ditty, and adds “Thank God for you,” as he looks at his mentee.

The emotional tale premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and won several awards, including the Best New Documentary Director award for Mr. Hicks. The Australian director will be at Guild Hall for a Q&A after his film’s July 25 screening.

“We’re so happy that we have this program and we have this traction,” Ms. Chaisson said in a phone interview last week. “And the festival is well known in the industry. It’s pretty great.” Two other documentaries that have yet to be announced will complete the SummerDocs series in the month of August.

Aspiring directors will get another chance to create their first masterpieces this summer in the HIFF’s Student Filmmaking classes, which will run both from Guild Hall and the Southampton Arts Center.

The board of the HIFF will keep cinephiles entertained all summer with weekly outdoor screenings of retrospective blockbusters at the Southampton Arts Center from June 27 until the weekend before Labor Day. The weekend of August 22 to 24 will see HIFF’s first Family Film Festival, which will screen approximately seven films, Ms. Chaisson said.

The tickets for the SummerDocs series cost $21 for members, $23 general admission. The films begin at 8 p.m. and each is followed by a Q&A hosted by Alec Baldwin. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information visit guildhall.org or call 324-0806.

 

 

TFF: Brin Hill Directs Joss Whedon’s “In Your Eyes”

Tags: , , , ,


UnknownIn_Your_Eyes_2

By Danny Peary

InYourEyesBrinHillphoto

Typically, filmmakers bring their newest films to film festivals in hopes of finding a theatrical distributor. But after its April 20 world premiere at the TriBeCa Film Festival, Brin Hill’s metaphysical romantic comedy, In Your Eyes, which was written and executive produced by Joss Whedon, was made available around the world for $5 with a digital release on the film’s website: www.inyoureyesmovie.com.  The release was powered by the Vimeo On Demand platform and was translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, and Japanese. It seemed appropriate that viewers could watch it simultaneously in diverse locations because it is about two people who are 2,000 miles apart who can see and experience the same things. Since they were kids, Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) and Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) have felt disconnected from everyone around them but have sensed that someone was there with them, in their heads.  This connection troubled them –she spent time in an asylum, he spent time in prison–but also comforted them. She is now a lonely housewife in New Hampshire and he works in a car wash in New Mexico. Suddenly they start seeing through each other’s eyes and carrying on conversations in private and public, making everyone think they are loony. Their attraction grows and life becomes more exciting, but also more dangerous.  In the future, I’ll post roundtables I participated in with Kazan, Stahl-David, and Nikki Read (who plays the one person in town who doesn’t treat Dylan as an outcast).  The following is a one-on-one I did with the amiable Hill (Ball Don’t Lie) during the Festival. 

Danny Peary: So you’re becoming a regular at the TriBeCa Film Festival.

Brin Hill: This is my third time here! It might be a record, I was actually wondering that the other day.

DP: Nicki Reed is in In Your Eyes as well as two others this year.

BH: People do the TriBeCa Trifecta in one year, I just spread it out over a decade.

DP: You’ve now had three experiences at TriBeCa.

BH: This has obviously been different in that we’ve gotten a lot of great press since Joss Whedon made a big announcement about the digital distribution.

DP: Tell me your background, beginning in Boston.

BH: I’ve crossed this fair country a lot. After Boston, I moved to Santa Monica, Venice, when I was twelve. I was blessed to go to art school, where I studied film history.  My film professor was a professor at AFI and he was an amazing film theorist. So I always sort of knew I wanted to do that. I did a little UCLA time too. At UCLA we made 16mm, non-sync films. My film won the Spotlight Award there for me and Justin Lynd. It was this film about three kids in Venice who find a gun, and a day in their life. It was multi-cultural, one black kid, one white kid, one Latin kid. Much like Venice.  Then I came back to NYU for grad school. I went straight from undergrad to grad school. I made a bunch of films at Tisch, including a short called Morning Breath, a Brooklyn love story.  It went to Sundance, won a special jury prize there, and actually showed at the first TriBeCa Film Festival. I actually ended up working for Spike Lee, who was one of my professors at NYU.  I worked for him on a couple of movies. We share a common love of basketball. Then I was here making various things, before going back to Santa Monica. I have been there for a while…

DP: What’s your basketball background?

BH: I played decently high-level in high school, and I played in college. I like to play three point line to three point line, no defense, just shoot. It’s not how many you make, it’s how many you take. But the wheels are already coming off over here. Three of my friends went to play in the NBA. I did not, but so we have all these guys who played in the league, Mark Jackson used to play in our game until he went to the Warriors. These guys are all so big.  I’m a two-guard, I don’t go down the block. But playing with those guys, I got beat up, so I realized I was done. I play a little bit, not so much. I play with my kids now, I coach them.

DP: So did you have sports ambitions?

BH: To me, sports was always a tool that afforded me opportunities in certain respects.  My high school team was really good, so I could go there and pursue art. And same with college, it got me into places and afforded me things. But the thing that Spike Lee and I used to talk about was that basketball taught me about competition. Which is the film industry in a lot of respects.  So I got that lesson out of sports.

DP: I read that Joss Whedon wrote the script for In Your Eyes a while ago. What part did he play in the process of getting this film made or did he move away and leave it to you at some point?

BH: He was involved in the process.  I don’t know when he wrote the script but I know it was a passion project. He and I sat down with my creative vision and he gave his two cents.  Then we had the table reading with the actors. I was in New Hampshire getting ready for the shoot and flew back for the table read with the actors and Joss and one of the producers. We had Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David, and Joss and I played all the other characters. When we got to New Hampshire, Mark and Zoe and I would meet and go over his scene work. Joss watched dailies and made notes. He was around, he just wasn’t on set. He and I would email.  Occasionally I would need clarification on a scene that was coming up the next day, and we’d make sure we were seeing things in the same way.  On a couple of  occasions he sent rewrites of scenes.

DP: We’re in an age where everybody can connect but other than Dylan and Rebecca, who connect by an unusual means, people still don’t.

BH: I think Her was about that, and I like to think it’s a theme I thought about for In Your Eyes, too. Obviously connection is central to it.  Joss Whedon’s writing in general, whether it’s The Avengers or Buffy, is about loner heroes who band together to overcome adversity.  It’s a central theme in everything he does, so I sort of latched onto that. To me my movie is about two loner heroes finding a connection to overcome adversity. As a commentary on how we’re all trying to figure out how to navigate connection in this age, it’s timely in a lot of ways. I think it’s a metaphor for what’s going on.

DP: Having seen Ball Don’t Lie and In Your Eyes, that search for connectivity is, to me, a theme of yours as a filmmaker. But I think your major theme is the title of one of your scripts: Won’t Back Down.  Certainly Dylan and Rebecca move forward despite the obstacles.

BH: For me, all the stuff that I do is about people overcoming perceived socialization and the limitations of their environment. That’s something I can relate to in terms of my neighborhood in Boston, where kids on my Little League team  were socialized by what they perceived was a limited environment. So I’m always looking back at that.

DP: What do you mean by “socialization?”

BH: How society puts limitations on you based on who you are, where you’re born. Michael Stahl-David talked about it a little bit at the Q&A the other day, saying how being different in a small town is really hard, because you’re under a microscope in a lot of ways and you’re told to be a certain way.  If you’re different, if you’re punk rock, if you dress differently, if you’re an artist, or if you think differently, people are going to look at you strangely. Which is why a lot of people come to a place like New York, where you can find other people like them. I think there’s an element of that in this movie, too. You hit on it, it’s a central theme for me–how do people overcome circumstance and environment when it puts constraints on you?

DP: Well, both Dylan and Rebecca, if you think about it, could have been destroyed because they never fit in. But there’s a resilience to both of them.

BH: Yeah, absolutely. For Won’t Back Down, the script that I wrote was slightly different from the movie they made, but that was the central theme. It was about the resilience of characters. Can you overcome adversity to break through and find your destiny? I think that’s what I was alluding to with Joss.  He’s always telling that story about overcoming adversity to find one’s destiny, whether it’s a superhero or whether it’s two lovers..

DP: One reason I loved Buffy was the kindness of the show. It’s about Buffy doing it alone or banding together with her gang to help people in need, including each other.

BH: Yeah, that goes back to what you were talking about, connection, finding someone to help you. That’s what I meant by banding together, because you can never do it alone. The world and the universe is too big for just one voice.

DP: Of course, it’s major to your film that Dylan and Rebecca help each other.

BH: Yeah, I’m on board with that, 100%.

DP: This film is essentially about two people having a long-distance relationship. Did you have long-distance relationships?

BH: It’s funny, you’re the first person to ask that question.  I hadn’t thought about it, but my wife and I dated in high school and were off-again, on-again, but never lived in the same place. So I think, like, a little bit of that seeped out into this movie.  Back in the day, we didn’t have cell phones with affordable plans when we were in college, so we were always on the phone and my phone bills were just insane. That existed in my life for a long, long time.

DP: In the movie Dylan tells Rebecca that looking back on his life, she was the best thing in it.

BH: “The only thing I liked about me is you.”

DP: But as a viewer I’m wondering, did they drive each other crazy?  Because they felt someone inside their heads and had no explanation.

BH: It’s true, people have brought that up. I like that people have different ideas. Different viewers have said. “I thought they’d never make it together, I thought that he’d get shot.” But they have a cynical view of what this movie is. You can’t end it that way.   I think it’d be so disappointing for people because of the sweetness of this film. If you ride this journey the whole way, you want to see them get together.

DP: Did you ever think people might believe that one of the two characters didn’t exist?

BH: I thought that some people would wonder that at some point. Late in the film, when she arrives and he’s not there, I think at that moment, some viewers might think she’s bonkers and made him up because she needed that.  I always thought because the script has both feet in reality, so as a filmmaker, I never went in that direction. I thought these two people are absolutely real and this is absolutely happening. I think the style of the film, the way we treated it, was all about trying to feel real and unfolding the story in real time in a real way. But I can see how a viewer might interpret it differently. I do think it’s cool that people wondered about it being real.

DP: You mentioned “destiny” before. Is this the ultimate fate movie?

BH: You know, I hadn’t thought about it on those terms, but I guess that’s true. People asked why this connection from afar is happening, what’s the explanation, and Joss and I always talked about how it happens when these two people need it the most. When they’re kids and feeling alienated from their environments, that’s when they need it. It helps them. Obviously, it freaks them out, but then they settle into it and they realize this is what they need, this is what they’ve lacked in their life. On some level you could argue that they’ve manifested it–and that would speak to their destiny in the external sense of the word. So I don’t know if it’s the ultimate fate movie, but it definitely deals with fate.

DP: You don’t give an explanation for why this is happening. Therefore, as I see it, the only explanation is that these two are destined to be together and their hearing and speaking to each other is the only way to get them together.

BH: That’s sort of how Joss and I thought about it, in the sense that they need each other at this moment in their lives. If they both appear for each other, it speaks to what we were talking about before, in terms of people needing one another to overcome adversity –or to do anything in this world. It’s hard to go it alone.

DP: I love that opening, with the young Rebecca sliding into a tree in New Hampshire and the young Dylan feeling the blow in New Mexico. I think there’s something so sweet about how a boy connects to a girl, first love.  They don’t live next door to each other, it’s not a traditional small-town thing where they’ve known each other since they were kids.

BH: There’s a little bit of an old-school quality, a throwback quality to this movie, that I love. Even the beginning feels a little bit like the way 1980s movies used to open. I like that it has that feel. I wanted it to feel that way, sort of like a classic, bigger movie. I always knew the two color palettes. When I first read the script I saw blue and orange, and I don’t know if it’s because I was channeling my inner Steven Soderbergh with Traffic or all of his movies, but I wanted to define their two spaces because there is so much back and forth between them. I defined that look immediately for myself, as a director.

DP: How does it end?

BH: With a normal tone.

DP: It turns yellow, doesn’t it?

BH: A little bit, but that’s because it’s the sunset. It’s a beautiful, beautiful sunset, it’s alchemy.

DP: Michael Stahl-David is superlikeable. He actually has your vibe.

BH: I try to zen out my vibe. Michael has such an easy way about him. He’s very charismatic in this movie.   I guess he was in Cloverfield, in which he played the main kid. He was also on that show The Black Donnellys, about the West Side mob. It was on for a heartbeat, and now it’s on Netflix. .

DP: In the roundtable,, Michael was joking that Dylan falls in love with himself by looking through Rebecca’s eyes.  And I said, “That’s actually what he does.”

BH: It’s true. He learns to love himself and appreciate himself because that’s how someone else sees him. That is true in this film for both Dylan and Rebecca.

DP: Zoe Kazan had two movies play previous at TriBeCa, The Exploding Girl and The Pretty One, in which her characters undervalue themselves.  That’s true with Rebecca as well.  In all these films her characters have to find self-worth.  Dylan has to do that too.

BH: Yeah, I think that’s a central theme that Michael accidentally hit on for you.  It’s about appreciating one’s self.  That line I quoted before–”The only thing I liked about me was you”–is more about how they see each other, and now they see themselves in a new way.

DP: They talk about what they have done for each other over the years.  I would like to think that their strength comes from the other person who’s always in them, always rooting for them, always being a positive influence on them.

BH: And their personality inside the other person, it’s always been there.

DP: Another film that deals with the two people sharing bodies is All of Me, the comedy with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin.

BH: I rewatched it before I made this movie, because I was thinking, “What movie is this like?”  All these agents would say, “Are you going to shoot the movie in split-screen?” “No, I’m not shooting in split-screen.” ” POV?” No, not really.”  I watched All of Me, and I saw that it’s completely different tonally. I watched it to see what it was like to have two personalities inside yourself. It wasn’t relatable to my movie. It’s just a broad slapstick comedy.

DP: It’s the premise more than anything. But usually with possession movies, one of the characters by the end disappears, and you’re left with one person. In your movie you have two individuals. The other thing we touched on before is that there’s no explanation for their supernatural connection–the Zoe Kazan-scripted Ruby Sparks is like that.

BH: Someone at a Q&A asked if Ruby Sparks  inspired this, but the only thing that informed it was that Zoe acted in it. Joss hadn’t seen that movie because it hadn’t been finished yet. It’s good, it’s really fun, she’s great in it.

DP: Zoe said it was really hard acting in front of a mirror in your movie.

BH: And she’s really good in her moments in front of the mirror. She has two scenes in front of the mirror in this movie and I love both of them. It’s so interesting that she said that, because she didn’t express that on set, in the moment, But I can definitely see how that would be really hard.  You can act opposite someone even if they’re hiding under a couch or off-camera and yelling their lines, but this was the first time she was actually looking at herself while in her head she has to imagine that Rebecca’s seeing Dylan.

DP: And, making it harder, Zoe is seeing herself as Rebecca through Dylan’s eyes and the audience’s eyes.

BH: It’s interesting, I didn’t think about how challenging that would be, because you’re seeing it through Dylan’s point of view and feeling the emotion he’s feeling for you, whether it’s heart-racing or whatever. That would actually be manifesting itself in what she’s feeling for him. I hadn’t thought about how complicated that is!

DP: How do you film that scene?

BH: Michael was off-camera, doing all his lines so he was present but Zoe couldn’t see him, which is true of almost all their scenes. So it was not your traditional sort of coverage. It’s a lot like what we were talking about–long-distance phone conversations.

DP: Did you ever not have Michael there to read the lines?

BH: Very rarely, because it was very important for them to be there for each other.

DP: Zoe Kazan is off-beat beautiful, and you captured it.

BH: I think she’s so charismatic and so pretty and so cute and part of that is her performance. I think she gives you a lot of different options as an actress, she has versatility. I think there’s a notion that people typecast her or pigeon-hole her into something like manic pixie, like Zoey Deschanel, but that limits her.  She has so much more range than that. I think her beauty is natural, it’s not overt when you see her, but on film she’s unique-looking in a really cool way. A lot of times, Joss picks unique-looking women in his projects–like Amy Acker – people who are a little off-center in terms of who we think of as movie stars. So she sort of fits that a little bit.. I didn’t have to work at that. She’s a great actress and I think everyone falls in love with her every time.

DP: Was the long-distance “sex scene” hard to edit?

BH: It wasn’t scripted that way, it was scripted very simply.  I wanted to do something that would capture how they feel for the audience. I wanted to visually share what they were going through with viewers.  It breaks with reality a little bit, but I think it captures the experience that they’re going through. For me, it was, “How do I manifest this?”

DP: It’s very sensual. You had to be sensual with the male body as well as the female body, which is hard.

BH: I didn’t really think about that, it just came naturally, I guess. Our DP and editor did an amazing job cutting it, I think. It was tricky to find the right music for that, but hopefully it works for people.

DP: You made an interesting choice in regard to a relationship with her husband, Phillip (Mark Feuerstein). The choice was to have him truly love her, rather than just be completely in love with himself or love someone else. Rebecca even recalls how helpful he was to her when she had a breakdown years before.

BH: Part of that is an element of his trying to make her fit this great, perfect image of what he wants his wife to be. He meets her when she is young and insecure and molds her. I think it’s stunted her personal development and growth.  There’s danger with characters like Phillip, because they don’t have a ton of real estate in the movie.  There’s an element of a trope with him, but I wanted him to be at least a little three-dimensional, in the sense that he does truly love her. Whether he loves her or the idea of her is hard to know.

DP: But you could have made him more of a villain.

BH: There was a version of the movie in which I could have made him much worse. But I dulled the edges a little bit and tried to make him more three-dimensional.  Mark was going against type.  It was an inspired decision by all of us, collectively, to go after him for the part because we could have cast that part with someone you’d immediately think of as a villain. But we know Mark in a different way.

DP: Did Rebecca love Phillip at some point?

BH: I think so, or, here again, maybe she loved the idea of him.  He did help her through a hard time.  But he’s not right for her.

DP: Has Dylan ever been in love?

BH: No.

DP: We’re talking about fate and destiny, so have they each always thought there’s someone out there for them?

BH: Yeah, they talked about sensing there was someone with them and helping them get past things. I think in her mind, she thought that person was her husband, but over time she thought that it might be her soul mate or kindred spirit.

DP: Zoe and Michael said they would have loved to have done the film in chronological order. How about you?

BH: I see from an acting point of view how that would have been helpful, but for me I don’t know that it would have made any difference.  It’s so rare that you’re afforded the opportunity to shoot things chronologically.  Because of our budget, you just have to go with the logistics of trying to stick with the schedule.

SPOILER ALERT

DP: At the roundtable I did with her, Zoe wondered whether they will stop hearing each other once they’re together.

BH: I think they’ll stop.

DP: She also wondered what happens to the characters after the film ends.. You don’t have to tell me what happens, because it’s up to viewers to decide, but in your mind, do you know what happens? Or do you not want to know?

BH: I don’t know that I want to know, I like the idea that they just found each other. I love open endings, not that this is an open ending in a traditional way.  Who knows where they’re headed?

DP: This is where you’d like to leave it?

BH: Yeah, it is a natural ending. I like the openness of it, I like people spinning their own narrative. I like to think that love can conquer all of it, no matter where they end up, no matter if they live in a boxcar for the rest of their life, or if they find a house somewhere.  I believe love will conquer whatever their environment is. They’ll have a great life.

END SPOILER ALERT

Chaisson Named Executive Director of Hamptons Film Festival

Tags: , , , ,


The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) announced last week it has appointed Anne Chaisson as its executive director. Chaisson has served as the advisory co-chair for HIFF since 2003 and began her new post at the end of last month.

The festival has also promoted David Nugent to artistic director. Nugent has served as director of programming at the festival since 2008. He has also been teaching documentary film history and American Independent film history at The New School since 2004.

“I am humbled and honored to be taking over the helm of an organization that I have been affiliated with for over a decade and in a place where I’ve worked, lived and played for even double that time,” said Chaisson, in a press release issued last week. “I truly consider the Hamptons home and look forward to working closely with the board, David in his new role, staff and most importantly, the community and long time supporters that have made the festival a success for the last 20 years.”

“Having Anne onboard seems like a natural progression of events.” Said Hamptons International Film Festival Chairman Stuart Match Suna. “She has been such an integral part of the festival for the past 10 years and we are thrilled to have her here full time. Anne’s broad background in production, business and film education make her an incredible asset the festival and I look forward to watching it flourish under her direction.”

Chaisson founded Dirty Rice Films in 2002 and has specialized in fundraising and development for many entertainment non-profits, as well as garnered awards as an independent film producer. Over the past decade, Chaisson has spearheaded the corporate fundraising efforts for such organizations as The Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Nantucket Film Festival, as well as the HIFF. She also produced the annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards in 2010 and 2011. Chaisson co-founded an independent film school called The Reel School in 1996 and continued to produce a student film workshop each summer in conjunction with the HIFF and Guild Hall in East Hampton. She is a member of the IFP Producers Group and New York Women in Film and Television.

Hamptons Film Festival Reaches a Younger Generation

Tags: , , , , , , ,


By Amanda Wyatt; Photography by Laurie Barone-Schaefer

While the 20th Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) brought a touch of Hollywood glitz and glamour to the East End last weekend, students at local schools were also able to get a taste of the silver screen — right in their own auditoriums.

On Friday, Pierson Middle School and Bridgehampton School students were not only treated to private screenings, but also to visits from the filmmakers behind two award-winning documentaries.

The screenings were part of the HIFF’s brand new Filmmakers in the Classroom program, which for the first time brought films and their directors and producers into East End schools.

The program was funded by a $20,000 grant from the Long Island Community Foundation to encourage community outreach and visiting artistic programing in schools.

Such an initiative is particularly important in an age of cuts to arts education, said HIFF community outreach coordinator Marianna Levine, whose own daughter attends Pierson Middle School.

“The foundation wanted to help bring the arts back to schools, because they think it’s a really important component to education,” she said. “I really wanted to be a part of it — as a parent, as a member of the local community.”

Just a few days before the film festival awarded “Best Short” to the film “Growing Farmers,” director Michael Halsband and producer Hilary Leff paid a visit to Bridgehampton students.

Sponsored by the Peconic Land Trust, the film focuses on how the organization has sought to revitalize agriculture on the East End. Particular attention was paid to the younger generation farmers, those in their 20s and 30s, making their way in the local agriculture industry.

Since Bridgehampton School has been a leader in the Edible Schoolyard movement, Levine believed the film was a perfect match. She also thought students would respond well to Halsband, a well-known photographer and director.

“[Halsband] discovered his love of photography when he was 10 or 11 — middle school age — so I thought it was a good fit,” she added.

And for Halsband, “Growing Farmers” was always designed to be an educational tool. He and Leff began filming with the intention of teaching the wider community about the efforts of the Peconic Land Trust and local farmers.

East End farms are “so visual and beautiful,” Halsband said. “So that was a draw for me, to explore that world deeper and to be the person discovering it for people who are going to eventually see the film.”

“I was learning as I was taking it in, like anybody else in the audience, just going along for the ride,” he added. “So in that respect it was an educational experience for me.”

At Pierson Middle School, students screened “CatCam,” which won an award at the South by Southwest film Festival. Charles Miller, the film’s director of cinematography and producer, introduced the documentary and handed out buttons with the image of its feline star, Mr. Lee.

The film tells the story of a German engineer who invented a miniature camera to track the whereabouts of Mr. Lee, a former stray. The images and videos taken on Mr. Lee’s excursions around his neighborhood transformed him — as well as Juergen, his owner — into Internet superstars.

“It’s really a dynamic film,” said Miller. “It’s about art and curiosity. It deals with technology. It’s just playful and fun on the surface, but it has a lot more depth to it.”

“This is the first time we’ve shown it to kids, and we’ve never heard audiences laugh like that. I think kids really respond to it,” he added.

According to Reilly Rose Schombs, a Pierson sixth grader, “CatCam” was “really awesome” and had an unexpected twist.

“I think that it teaches you that if you have a question in life, you should always try to find a way to answer it, ‘cause you never know what can happen,” she said. “You can always find surprises.”

Miller said that he and the “CatCam” crew were certainly open to invitations from other schools.

“I think it’s a perfect venue for the film,” he said.

According to Levine, the film festival is also interested in continuing Filmmakers in the Classroom next year.

“Our hope and dream is that we’ll have this year round, where we can bring local filmmakers into schools,” she said.

“I’m hoping in the future we can hook into the film community out here and also in New York City, and have them mentoring young people who are interested in film and photography, which is so accessible. It’s open to everyone,” Levine said.

It’s Not What You’d Expect

Tags:


web HIFF

The 19th edition of the HIFF dishes up a cinematic smorgasbord.

By Annette Hinkle

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) began nearly two decades ago as a quiet, off-season affair with a small gathering of filmmakers and a limited number of offerings.

But over the years, HIFF has developed a reputation on the filmmaking circuit and is now among the major festivals to watch. This year, the festival committee screened over 2,000 submissions from around the world before deciding on a program of 85 features and 50 shorts. In addition to screenings, film lovers can also expect panel discussions on topics not only related to the business of filmmaking, but several that deal with hard hitting issues addressed in the festival’s documentary line-up as well.

HIFF runs Thursday, October 13 to Monday, October 17, and while East Hampton Village is the center of the action, this year, there will also be offerings in Southampton, Westhampton, Montauk and Sag Harbor (films will be screened at Sag Harbor Cinema and Bay Street Theatre will host panel discussions).

Holly Herrick, a programmer and special programs producer for the festival, notes that there’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a lineup for a festival like this.

“We try to provide something for everyone,” explains Herrick. “We offer a lot of opportunities not to just see the big exciting movies that will soon have a wide release, but also films that might not otherwise come to the area. There are a lot of documentaries, a wonderful shorts program and international cinema that is not often seen in the U.S.”

“We also think about the Hamptons community and the kinds of films that might interest people — things that will have a timely relevance or touch on an important issue here in the community.”

As an example, Herrick points to “The Bully Project” a documentary that tackles a topic of great concern not only in local school districts, but those across the country as well.

“There are a few things at HIFF that we focus on that are part of the programmatic structure. Films of conflict and resolution as they relate to social issues is part of that focus and we also take the time to discuss them with the filmmakers afterwards.

“The Bully Project,” which is directed by Lee Hirsh, chronicles five families whose children have been severely bullied — in some cases with tragic results. “The Bully Project” has already been selected by the festival as a “Films of Conflict & Resolution” award winner and a free panel discussion on bullying will be offered on Friday, October 14 at 4 p.m. in the East Hampton First Presbyterian Church Session House as well.

As far as other documentaries in this year’s lineup go, Herrick notes there are, “A couple that are a very big deal in the film world.”

Among them is Wim Wenders “Pina in 3D” in which the filmmaker documents modern dance pieces choreographed by the late Pina Bausch for her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble. Other docs include “Pelotero,” which looks at how Major League Baseball recruits players from the Dominican Republic, and “You’ve Been Trumped” which documents the reception developer Donald Trump receives in a small Scottish village when he tries to displace residents to make way for a luxury resort.

While documentaries are, by their nature, timely, when it comes to selecting the film line-up, though the HIFF doesn’t look for specific themes, Herrick has found that there are often trends across the board that appear in submissions.

“You do see a crop of films that have these themes that reference one another,” notes Herrick. “It’s not on purpose, but filmmakers latch onto the cultural zeitgeist and it comes through in the films.”

“In general, the themes present themselves,” she adds. “This year there are several films about people becoming caretakers for others when they fall ill. There are also issues of immigration in these films. We’re also seeing a lot of films with strong female characters and stories about women’s lives.”

When asked to name some of her favorite selections in this year’s line-up, Herrick demurs.

“For programmers, it’s hard to pick favorite films, it’s like picking a favorite child,” she says. “But some of those we’re focusing on are our opening, closing and centerpiece films. They are always a big part of the festival and set a big tone.”

This year’s opening night films include “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” in East Hampton, and “Butter” in Southampton. The centerpiece film is “Like Crazy,” and “The Artist” will be the closing night feature in East Hampton.

Like these bigger films, many offerings in the festival’s Spotlight Films category also tend to go on to enjoy wider release. But many hidden gems of the festival can be found in the narrative and documentary competition categories in which five films compete against one another in both groups.

“Some of these are films that won’t necessarily go on to have a wider release,” explains Herrick. “It’s very specifically curated and the films are chosen for diversity. They’re usually by emerging filmmakers and these are their first, second or third films.”

For Sag Harbor filmgoers who like the idea of taking in festival offerings close to home, Herrick notes that Sag Harbor Cinema is one of the few venues left on the East End where 35mm film can still be screened.

“Some of the most hotly anticipated offerings will be in Sag Harbor,” says Herrick. “We have foreign films from Cannes and a lot of really great things there. Sag Harbor is a wonderful theater, we’re thrilled to be there.”

In addition to films from the World Cinema, and Spotlight Films line-up, the theater will present shorts, several documentaries and the centerpiece film “Like Crazy” (Sunday, October 16 at 2 p.m.)

Bay Street Theatre will host three discussions as part of  “A Conversation With” over the weekend. First, Harry Belafonte talks with Dick Cavett about his work as a civil and human rights activist on Saturday, October 15 at 3:30 p.m., followed at 5:30 p.m. by Susan Sarandon (co-star of “Jeff, Who Lives at Home”) in a discussion moderated by Bob Balaban. On Sunday at noon, Rufus Wainwright will be at Bay Street to talk about “Kate McGarrigle: I Am A Diamond” a work-in-progress film about his folk-singer mother who recently died of cancer.

For tickets and full schedule, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.


Mystery in a Book

Tags: , , ,


From "Saving Caroline," a film by Amagansett's Devon Leaver.

From "Saving Caroline," a film by Amagansett's Devon Leaver.



Local student offers film in fest.

Though the festival offers films from around the world, it also recognizes the talents of local filmmakers as well. Being screened this year is “Saving Caroline” a 20-minute offering by Devon Leaver. Leaver, a freshman at Bates College in Maine, made the film as her Senior Project at the Ross School. The film won Guild Hall’s student filmmaking competition last spring, which secured its place in the HIFF lineup.

Leaver explains that “Saving Caroline” tells the story a 17-year-old boy who purchases a journal at a yard sale only to discover it’s been written in by a girl with an great imagination.

“He’s drawn into her fantasy world until they blur,” says Leaver, an Amagansett resident who adds that she came up with the idea for the film while on a Ross School trip to India her junior year.

“Every single night we’d go up on a balcony overlooking a beautiful field and the sunset,” she says. “Everything was really golden and we just talked about things. These images kept popping into my head and I knew I wanted to try to make those into scenes.”

When Leaver came back home, she built a script around those scenes and spent most of her senior year producing, shooting and editing her film.

“The entire script I was building off what I imagined. It all worked out just as I imagined,” she says.

While Leaver isn’t sure if she’ll be able to break away from college long enough to come home to see her film screened at this year’s festival, she did attend a lot of screenings last year and was inspired by what she saw.

“It’s the best — to have the festival there and that many more options rather than the run of the mill stuff is great. There was a lot of quality.”

“I love film in all it’s genres,” she adds. “I love watching narrative films the most just to see how creative people can be in terms of trying to think up new storylines. I’m always looking at films to see different ways that people use lighting or sound mixing.”

“I’m always looking for new tricks.”

“Saving Caroline” will be screened Monday, October 17 at 5:15 p.m. at the UA East Hampton Theater 6. Admission is free.

-A.H.


Robin Singer on Playing the Femme Fatale

Tags: ,


web KissesChloe1

By Danny Peary

One of the most highly-anticipated films of the upcoming Hamptons International Film Festival was shot in Hampton Bays and features Robin Singer, who is being touted as one of the event’s “Rising Stars.” Writer-director Stephen Padilla’s “Kisses, Chloe” has the title of a romantic comedy but is actually a provocative three-character exploration of sex and love, friendship, and self-destructive behavior–and other bad patterns people bring to relationships that viewers may find all too familiar. At the heart of the film is a young female who appears to have no heart, Singer’s young title character, who, like a ravenous, if cheery, vampire, sleeps during the day in her huge old house, and emerges mostly at night to suck the life out of those who enter her domain. Her new potential victims are her best and only friend Emily (Mikal Evans) and her boyfriend Alex (Brad Coolidge), who dare visit her Hamptons retreat. For Singer, who had a tiny part in Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works” and danced on “30 Rock,” playing Chloe has been her biggest and most satisfying challenge (“I surprised myself”) The versatile movie/television/theater actress/dancer/singer will be at the festival to support her film, but I had the chance to speak to her beforehand in New York City.


Danny Peary: What does it mean to you that Kisses, Chloe is debuting at the Hamptons International Film Festival?

Robin Singer: It’s a real honor and very exciting. We shot the film here in September 2009, almost exactly a year ago, and it’s like coming home in a way. The film was grown here and it feels that this is the festival where it should premiere.

DP: Why do you think Stephen Padilla set the film in the Hamptons?

RS: I never really thought about it before people started asking me that question. But now I can’t imagine it taking place anywhere else. Besides being so beautiful, there is a mystique and romanticism and luxury that’s associated with the Hamptons, and that stereotype is what this film explores. The house in Hampton Bays where my character Chloe lives alone is very secluded, which is difficult for a person who feels anxious when lonely and isolated, but it is so picturesque, right on the bay with a beautifully manicured lawn. It’s an old house that feels lived in and cared for. It seemed so appropriate.

DP: But didn’t you find it strange that Padilla set his entire movie about three young people in an old house?

RS: Not really. I know quite a few young people who spend time in family vacation homes, including in the Hamptons. The house is Chloe’s uncle’s property and it makes sense that when she got fired as a fashion-trend spotter in Europe she’d move to a place that exuded the lifestyle.

DP: In the production notes it says that the actors stayed in character during the twelve days of shooting. If you stayed as Chloe, who is vain, manipulative, tactless, and dominates every situation, did everybody try to avoid you?

RS (laughing): I wasn’t sitting alone between scenes, no! I was myself all the time but it was easy to step into character because I was surrounded by her world. Mikal, Brad and I were staying in the rooms our characters inhabited and everything was real in that sense for us. The first night, we moved in, had dinner, and just relaxed and there was immediate bonding of cast and crew. It was amazing. I don’t think Stephen could have chosen a better group of people to make this film because it was such an enjoyable experience despite how intense the shoot was.

DP: When did you get the script?

RS: In July 2009. I originally auditioned for Emily, because when I saw the casting notice it seemed that for Chloe they wanted a model, somebody who was very body-conscious, and I didn’t really think of myself that way. I thought of myself as the more reserved Emily and read two scenes as her. Then Stephen said, “Can you read the part of Chloe instead?”

DP: Had you read the whole script?

RS: I made it through four auditions before Stephen gave it to me. He wanted to know what my take on Chloe was from having read about eight pages total and I told him, “I think she’s a very innocent person.” He stared at me and said, “Okay, maybe I should give you the whole script.” When you’re an actor you root for your characters and want to think the best of them, so when I’d read the brief audition scenes I wasn’t convinced that Chloe is aware of everything bad she is doing. But when I read the full script I realized she is very much in control and driving the action. I came back to Stephen and said, “Oh, my god, I can’t believe I said she is innocent.”

DP: But after playing her, do you find her likable?

RS: I personally love Chloe. As Emily believes, she is likable although she doesn’t always do likable things. Like Emily and Alex, she is pursuing love, but doesn’t do it the right way. Having done quite a bit of comedy it was exciting to explore something so dramatic and juicy and play someone who is outwardly very strong but comes to learn the depths of her vulnerability and loneliness. Chloe doesn’t think of herself as a villain.

DP: So do you think Chloe comes on to Alex not because she’s a tramp or insensitive to Emily’s feelings but because she is trying to do Emily a service by revealing her boyfriend likes women on the side?

RS: I think Chloe believes that and her motivation isn’t entirely selfish for acting as she does toward Alex. Chloe is a perceptive, observant person who is really good at reading people, especially men, and she is able to quickly read Alex after provoking him with her shocking language and stories and lay her trap. What she does is a bit twisted, but she does want the best for Emily. That’s how I choose to see it. I wasn’t really thinking that way when I was playing it but watching the film now I think Emily’s pattern is to allow Chloe to seduce Alex, as has happened with her previous boyfriends. It makes her nervous having Chloe meet Alex, but it’s part of Emily’s issue to set herself up to be hurt. This may be how Emily tests Alex’s love for her. Or how she tests Chloe’s friendship. This film is about three people who have negative habits and patterns and whether it’s possible for them to change. Chloe has no one but herself to blame for her sadness, but I hope she can finally take a real look at herself and change.

SPOILER ALERT

DP: We first learn that Chloe isn’t made of stone when she and Emily walk back to the house while arguing about their one sexual encounter. When Emily says she never thinks of that night, Chloe breaks stride as if punched in the stomach. I assume there was little improvisation on this film, but at this key moment were you directed to hesitate momentarily or did you do it on your own?

RS: That was my choice. It was important to me that the audience understands that night meant so much to her and that she’s not just stirring things up because she’s a bad person but because she genuinely needs Emily’s love. Chloe always plays an upbeat, energetic, sexy, positive character, but here she finally reveals that it’s an act and that she’s really an emotional, vulnerable person. It’s important to me that she can be defended.

END SPOILER ALERT

DP: Do you expect there to be cringing by viewers who identify with these characters, particularly couples with trust issues?

RS (laughing): That’s life! “Who is your text message coming from?” I would say that a goal of the film is to give people a forum, language, and situation and push them to look at themselves. Viewers might identify with some of the negative habits of the characters, but we’re not trying to break up anyone! It’s enough to start discussions and self-examination. The goal of any art is to provoke, isn’t it?