The Long Island International Film Expo wrapped up another successful year, earlier this week. The Ali Larter film Crazy took the festival’s top honors, but one of the festival’s biggest surprises was the 19-minute film Sovereignty. Directed by Jonathan Sale, the film draws upon a play by Rolin Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and producer of the Emmy winning TV show “Weeds.” Lead actress, Heather Dilly, took home best actress honors for the second consecutive year, for her turn as a suburban housewife who turns a deaf ear to domestic abuse. Shot in black-and-white, the film draws upon the Pleasantville idea of marrying 1950’s idealism with 21st century reality. In regards to this, Sale says the following: “The play as it was written was set in modern day America. When I wrote the screenplay, I decided to set it in a faux 1950s, “Leave it to Beaver” setting because I thought that it would visually and subconsciously underscore the idea of a forced façade of propriety masking underlying tensions. At the same time I wanted to maintain important elements of modernity needed to effectively illustrate the theme.”
Equal parts comedic, sardonic and moving, the last seven minutes are gripping and a veritable call to arms to ignorance and standing still. Well-acted by all parties, Sovereignty is next slated to appear at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, the only New England film festival which serves as a qualifier for the Best Short Film Academy Award. It’s past screenings include the Cinquest Film Festival, Hoboken Film Festival, Gasparilla Film Festival and an upcoming slot at the Nonviolence International Film Festival.
Much like the independent film Holly, profiled on this blog this winter, the folks at Manhattan-based Laurel Films, the creative force behind Sovereignty are banding together to rally attention and money towards a greater cause. Of this Sale says, “This is the very first time that we have tried to meld our desire to help the world around us with our passion for filmmaking. I hope it will not be our last. This is the type of film that I love to make, not only entertaining and meaningful but also demanding. This film doesn’t let the audience off easy. It demands action or discussion or at least thought. That, to me, is what art should aspire to.” If only all films could do such things.