FRANCINE, a film by Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky. Picture courtesy Factory 25. All rights reserved.
- Christina Cole
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Opened: 09/12/2012 Limited
|MoMA/NYC||09/12/2012 - 09/18/2012||7 days|
|NoHo 7||10/25/2012 - 11/01/2012||8 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
After years of incarceration, a quiet, lonely woman, Francine (Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo), is released to start a new life in a small, rural town. But despite opportunities for warmth and connection, her years of "rehabilitation" have left her with little ability to create relationships and happiness, finding her only solace in her connections with animals. What happens when a second chance isn't enough?
"This offbeat character study gets at something true and stirring." -- Justin Chang, Variety
"A legitimate discovery. Raw. Intimate." -- David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
"A small but striking independent feature." -- Denis Lim, The New York Times
"A surprisingly provocative piece of stripped-down social realism." -- Patrick Gamble, Cinevue
"As a 74-minute snapshot of an American at the low end of the struggling 99%, it speaks far more eloquently than poverty statistics." -- David D'Arcy, Screen Daily
The story of Francine emerged from a short film that we made called The Delaware Project, a semi-narrative tale about a woman who attempts to find a connection in a once-rural landscape, now undergoing aggressive suburban development. In this largely tonal, visually suggestive piece, our protagonist rarely speaks, and expresses almost nothing. Pining for some kind of intimacy, she seeks refuge through ritualistic visits with doctors, and finds a strange comfort in being poked and prodded, explored and diagnosed. Although the attention she receives is clinical, at least someone is paying attention to her.
Francine is, in many ways, a narrative continuation of the themes touched upon in The Delaware Project. It is the story of an aging female prison inmate on parole, someone for whom there is still time left to find her footing, but for whom a significant number of years have already passed her by. Raw to the outside world, and disconnected from the ease of human interaction, Francine quickly retreats into a world of animals where she finds solace and kinship working with those who, not unlike herself, have been subjected to captivity. A pet store, a polo ground and finally a veterinarian's office provide Francine with an opportunity to intervene with lives that have been pre-determined and, in some cases, disregarded.
Francine is an exploration, not of life in prison, but of imprisonment in a larger sense. Francine's confinement, as she comes to accept it, is her comfort.
About the Cast
Melissa Leo (Francine)
Academy Award winner Melissa Leo has been a staple in both film and television for over 20 years. She received universal critical acclaim and her first Academy Award nomination for her tour-de-force performance in Sony Picture Classic's Frozen River, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury prize for Best Drama. She also won an Independent Spirit Award, Gotham Independent Film Award, and a Spotlight Award from the National Board of Review for this performance. In 2011, she starred in David O'Russell's The Fighter, for which she won the 2011 Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild award, New York Film Critics Circle Award, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Keith Leonard (Ned)
Keith Leonard was born and raised in New Jersey. After graduating from Wayne Hills High School he entered the carpentry field. While in his thirties, Leonard attended the Action Theatre Conservatory. Since then, he has appeared in numerous film and television shows including The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and War of the Worlds. He resides in upstate New York with his family and his two beloved German Shepherds.
Victoria Charkut (Linda)
Victoria Charkut is an actor, playwright, singer and director. Her plays have been produced in New York City and published in Best Women's Monologues. She has appeared in over 20 films including Ghostbusters, Tootsie, Bright Lights, Big City and Woody Allen's Radio Days. She is presently acting and directing in the Catskills where she lives with her husband of over 30 years and four beautiful cats.
Dave Clark (Pet Store Manager)
Dave Clark was born in Newburgh, New York. He attended Columbia College Film School in Los Angeles where he studied filmmaking and acting. He is also a standup comedian and improv artist, having studied with Frank Vignola at Broadway Comedy Club in NYC. Clark currently resides in Dallas, Texas where he is working on the independent comedy Murphy's Law. Francine is his first feature film.
Dr. Mike Halstead (Veterinarian)
Dr. Mike Halstead is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who operates the Lake Katrine Animal Hospital in Lake Katrine, New York. He graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a Bachelor's Degree in Biology and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Animal Emergency Clinic of the Hudson Valley, Ulster County SPCA. Dr. Halstead is a Ten-time finisher of the Ironman Triathlon and an All American Triathlete for twenty consecutive years. He lives with his wife Shelly, son Drew and a Labrador named Kai.
About the Filmmakers
Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky (Writers / Directors)
Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky founded Pigeon Projects in 2005 as a means of producing their uncompromising fiction and non-fiction films. Living comfortably at the margins of documentary and narrative cinema, works created by Pigeon Projects forgo conventional storytelling methods in order to accommodate stark imagery, elusive characters and a deadpan realism. Together, Cassidy and Shatzky have shown their films at the Sundance, Toronto, Rotterdam and Edinburgh film festivals. Their short film, The Delaware Project was nominated for a Tiger Award at Rotterdam, and won awards at the European Media Art Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Athens International Film Festival. Their films have also shown in museums and galleries including the National Gallery of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art. In 2007, Filmmaker Magazine named them as one of "25 New Faces of Independent Film". Cassidy and Shatzky recently finished their first documentary feature, The Patron Saints, which is a disquieting and hyperrealistic look at a nursing home. The Patron Saints had its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Francine is their first narrative feature.
Joshua Blum (Producer)
Joshua Blum is a film producer and the founder and president of Washington Square Films / Washington Square Arts. He is also the co-director of the non-profit Bowery Arts and Science. Recent projects produced include the acclaimed 2011 film Margin Call, directed by JC Chandor; And Everything is Going Fine, a documentary about Spalding Gray directed by Steven Soderbergh; Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, which won the 2008 Emmy for Best Documentary and the Peabody Award; and Wendy & Lucy, which premiered at The Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Picture at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards. TV projects include No Joking for The Sundance Channel, Words In Your Face for PBS series and widely acclaimed PBS series The United States of Poetry which was hailed by the New York Times as "Possibly, the most important program about the spoken word ever produced".
Katie Stern (Producer)
Katie Stern is a film producer and director working in New York City. Her NYU thesis film, Blue Dress, was the recipient of the Warner Bros. Pictures Film Production Award, winner of the 2007 Hamptons International and Rome International Film Festivals, and screened at festivals all over the country. She was featured as one of Jane Magazine's "30 Under 30" as a filmmaker to watch. Stern began working closely with director Kelly Reichardt on her feature films Old Joy (Sundance, 2006) and Wendy and Lucy (Cannes, 2008). Since then, she has been producing and directing commercials, short films, and music videos at Washington Square Films, working for such varied clients as Apple Computer, Toshiba, and Sonic Youth. In addition to Francine, she recently produced two projects for Laurie Anderson / Nonesuch Records.