Like so many of the divergent inspirations for Maris Curran’s feature directorial debut, it was a low point that led the Bay Area-based filmmaker’s thoughts drift to the north.
“It’s a film that takes on a series of contrasts: North/South, black/white, rural/urban, living/dead, young/old and ill/well,” the writer/director said of “Five Nights in Maine,” a drama that fittingly enough could also very well turn a difficult time in her life into a beautiful work of art should it reach its Kickstarter goal by September 1st.
Out of work and nearing the end of a failing relationship, the director and commercials producer, whose short film “Margarita” made the festival rounds in 2009, started to reminisce about the areas of her youth, beginning in Atlanta near her birthplace in Augusta and then traveling upwards towards rural Maine, where she spent her summers visiting relatives. Eventually, that provided the roadmap for “Five Nights” and its lead Sherwin, an African-American man struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife of 10 years when he accepts the invitation of her estranged mother-in-law to possibly make sense of things and is thrust into a region where he is wholly uncomfortable.
“It’s about losing a partner and having to confront where our loved ones come from, but on a deeper level, it is a film about the loss of one’s self, an internal loss,” said Curran, who adds that the film will deal with race in a way through the journey of her lead character with an honesty that’s uncommon in American culture, let alone American cinema. “Ultimately, Sherwin makes the personal political and elevates the film to be about much more than one person’s loss.”
No strangers to such territory after taking Sundance Film Festival by storm with the coming-of-age drama “Pariah,” that film’s award-winning cinematographer Bradford Young and its producer Nekisa Cooper will join Curran's production team that reads like an all-star squad from the rest of this year’s festival including “Circumstance” composer Gingger Shankar and “Take Shelter” production designer Chad Keith.
“We’re going to wreak subtle aesthetic havoc when the three of us get into the woods of Maine,” the filmmaker said, referring to Young and Keith, explaining that “Five Nights” will take full advantage of the picturesque topography of the Northeast with a style she says is best described as poetic realism. “The tone of the film is intimate and landscape and geography are key – linking directly to the emotional substance of the film. The film is both a visual and emotional journey through compassion and grief.”
While that may make “Five Nights” sound heavy, Curran insists it’s a story about redemption and well before its planned shoot in the spring of next year, it’s become an uplifting tale behind the scenes.
“It is an unusual project, so I believe that the folks attached joined the project for very personal reasons, which means that we all feel a sense of ownership of the project,” said the filmmaker in a sentiment about her on-set collaborators that could easily be extended to the film’s Kickstarter supporters.
“It has already been an incredibly illuminating, gratifying and humbling experience raising funds on Kickstarter," she adds. "You are literally asking your audience to watch you construct the film from the bottom up.”
From the sound of it, that skyward direction is one that the filmmakers of "Five Nights of Maine" and its burgeoning fanbase should get used to.
To back this project and to see Maris Curran's personal pitch video, visit the Kickstarter page for "Five Nights in Maine" here. And stay connected with the film's progress on its Facebook page and Twitter.