I can’t stop thinking about the Aurora movie theater shootings. Not just the extreme sadness caused by such senseless violence, but by the fact some of the movie goers thought the tear gas and shootings were part of the special effects. Scary stuff when we get so used to violence in movies we don’t know when the real thing is happening. I’m glad for our wonderful audience which has chosen to take a break from all that and allowed themselves The River Why. Our director, Matt Leutwyler, wanted the movie to (grow and) flow like a river. It’s a gift.
For those of you wanting some additional inspiration, check out this clip from my new favorite show, “Newsroom”.
Using a river as a metaphor for life is nothing new. Many books and films (think A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT) have made use of this strong and compelling image. The winding path of water, sometimes running fast with rapids, other times eddying into quiet pools and lagoons, teaming with a variety of river life, and so on. The potential for symbolism is endless. The new film THE RIVER WHY can safely be added to this long list. Beginning as a slow and thoughtful hodgepodge of philosophical ideas, the movie ultimately becomes a sweet-natured love story.
Zach Gilford (TVs FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) is Gus, a young man living under the double weight of his father’s minor but overbearing fame as a fisherman & author, and his mother’s constant bickering with his father. When they argue, he says, “it’s not who’s getting the last word, but who’s getting the next word. One day, he decides he’s had enough and leaves to live in his own place by the river, so he can do what he loves: fish. What starts out as an ode to angling, though, soon begins taking detours into the philosophy of religion and life, tossing off lines like, “The way that goes ahead often looks as if it went back.” But after meandering along in its first half like a slow current, this RIVER hits its stride in the second half as the banks narrow, and we even get some rapids (sorry, too much?) as the romance carries the movie to its emotionally satisfying conclusion.
Director Matthew Leutwyler (THE OH IN OHIO, another nice love story driven by offbeat characterization) effectively intercuts the lure and beauty of nature with the fine performances of his excellent cast. Gilford is funny and appealing as the awkward Gus. Veterans William Hurt and Kathleen Quinlan are simply wonderful as his parents, creating memorable characters from small parts that could have easily tipped into caricature. William Devane provides some much-needed humor as a grizzled journalist and fishing enthusiast who befriends Gus. And Amber Heard (literally miles away from her roles in ZOMBIELAND and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) shines in perhaps the most pivotal role in the film, as the girl of Gus’s dreams. This talented young actress has shown such range in her performances, stardom has to be just around the corner.
Although it may take some patience on the part of the viewer, THE RIVER WHY, like a sunny afternoon spent fishing in a shady pool, will eventually yield its own small rewards.
Three great events coming up this weekend – and three great opportunities in three different places to see the film, greet our star who plays “Gus” , Zach Gilford, meet our director, Matthew Leutwyler and support a good cause.
The filmmakers of “The River Why” donated 25 tickets to veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who are participating in Project Healing Waters so they could see the film when it screens at the Alexandria Film Festival (Virginia), November 6 at 7 pm. Project Healing Waters is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. For tickets, please go to: http://alexandriafilm.org/schedule/
It looks like both the Saturday, October 9, and Thursday, October 14 screenings of “The River Why” are sold out at the Mill Valley Film Festival. There might be tix available if you stand in the rush line.
I’m heading up to beautiful Oregon for the Bend Film Festival and a 3 pm screening on Friday, Oct 8, before coming back for Mill Valley’s screening on Saturday. The Bend Film Fest will also screen TRW on Sunday at the Sisters Movie House at 10 a.m. www.bendfilm.org
Our director, Matthew Leutwyler, can’t make it to the Saturday Mill Valley Film Fest screening , but will be there for the screening on Thursday, October 14. Stop by and say hi.
The following weekend, we have screenings at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis and the Gig Harbor Film festival in Washington state and the Salem Film Festival in Oregon.
The Gig Harbor screening is Friday, Oct 15 at 1: 3o pm. www.gigharborfilmfestival.com
The Salem Film Festival screening is Friday, Oct 15 at 6:30 pm and Monday, October 18 at 3:15. http://www.salemfilmfestival.com/2010/films/features/riverwhy.html
The Heartland Film Festival is October 16 at 7 pm, October 18 at 6 pm, October 19 at 6 pm and October 22 at 8:15 pm.http://www.trulymovingpictures.org/festival-years/2010/movie/the-river-why
And keep an eye out for “Greenlit”, the documentary one of our Executive Producers, Miranda Bailey, directed about our efforts – sometimes more successful than others – to make “The River Why” green. An enlightening and hysterical film. It’s playing at a number of the fall film festivals.
Now, acknowledging there is more to life than coming-of-age love stories with fishing, I have this to say:
Check out this video (featuring Zach Gilford, Kathleen Quinlan, director Matthew Leutwyler,and Screenwriter Tom Cohen) from the Red Carpet Premiere of The River Why at the Dallas International Film Festival.
Note: the cast and crew appear about 5 minutes in.