Before El Fina


TYPE
: Narrative Feature
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Pre-Production

LOGLINE

A reclusive artist invites life-long friends to her isolated farm and reveals a shocking plan. Before the weekend ends, secrets are sacrificed forcing a devastating choice.

SYNOPSIS

After the sudden death of her husband, a reclusive artist invites life long friends to her farm in Spain and reveals a shocking plan. Before the weekend ends, the friends must sacrifice secrets from the past and force her to make a devastating choice.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

In Before El Finâ a group of 40-something friends approach a midlife reckoning. For many of us the dazzling internet revolution and acceleration of communication and technology has brought with it a paradoxical sense of loss. We paired up in the old way, captured our past on celluloid and rely on faulty memories to preserve our stories. We are the generation that came of age in the analog world but have spent most of our adulthood in an emerging digital world. I chose Andalusia as the setting for this film because of all the places I have lived and visited, this part of the world seems to defy the razor of modernity in the most unique of ways. Stubbornly traditional, the people of this region nurture a deep appreciation for what they have, and a preternatural awareness of the fragility of its rugged, fertile natural environment. When I set out to create the world of this film, I made for myself a set of parameters that were both practical and thematic: A short time span, a single location, and characters who have known each other a long time. Films that have influenced me: La Règle du Jeu, Persona, Knife in the Water, The Big Chill, and Festen… All these movies rely on great performances, the excavation of memory and a claustrophobic world that heightens sexual and dramatic tension. While all of the details of Leah’s story and character are different, the core mystery of her decision is the same paradox that fascinated me when I first heard about it. As the film has evolved, every step of the way I have had to remind myself to stay faithful to the true north of this story: a tragic choice engendered out of friendship, loyalty, and love.

KEY CREW

Nathan Buck - Screenwriter / Director

After early careers as a professional actor, musician and mime artist Nathan Buck began working in film and video production in the UK in the early 2000’s. He started learning the business of film assisting producers Nick O'Hagan and Paul Raphael on feature films and worked his way up to the role of line producer before moving into writing and directing.

After arriving in NYC in 2005 his feature-length documentary Real Gone! Dance competed successfully at the American Dance Film Festival in 2009. He specialized in arts documentaries while living with his wife, Megumi Eda, a professional dancer and filmmaker, and their 2 children in Harlem. Nathan began directing narrative shorts in the 90’s and has worked extensively as a video editor and shooter for 20 years.

Nathan was invited to be filmmaker-in-residence at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts in 2015, where he also directed the short film “Solitude” by Mia McCullough.

In 2018 he and his family moved to Berlin where he shifted his focus back to writing and narrative drama.

Before El Finâ is Nathan’s first full-length narrative film.

He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he majored in Performance Studies.

Christina Mallet - Producer

A film producer and photographer with a background in teaching underachieving students in inner city schools, Christina has worked with war refugees as well as human rights organizations. With her husband and two children, she has lived in the USA, Africa and Europe.

Christina founded Airlift Pictures with Nathan Buck in 2019 with the goal of producing high quality, independent, arthouse feature films. The company seeks international co-production partners and actively develops a wide range of projects in North America, Europe and Asia. Christina is particularly focused on developing stories that have an African focus and is thrilled to be producing Before El Finâ, her debut feature, which goes into production in the summer of 2019.

Alex Mallet - Executive Producer

Alex Mallet was born in Stuttgart, Germany to a German mother and a Ghanaian father. At age 7 his family moved from Germany to Cape Coast Ghana so his physician father could practice medicine in his home country. Alex attended St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast and then completed his final years of high school in Accra at Ghana International School. Alex studied computer science and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and completed his Masters degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Computational and Systems Biology. Alex worked for Microsoft for 10 years, before moving to Amazon in 2011, where he is a Director of Software Development.

Joanne Cregg Smith & Daniel C. Smith - Co-Executive Producers

Joanne and Daniel are passionate supporters of the arts, having served as producers of film and theater, including the upcoming American Utopia starring David Byrne on Broadway and last season's Parisian Woman, starring Uma Thurman. Other film projects include the acclaimed documentary The Walking Hospital, Road to Lomanthang. They have both served on the Board of Directors for the West Fulton Puppet Festival, bringing the arts to children in rural New York. Daniel currently serves as Director of Finance at St. Ann’s Warehouse, one of New York’s pre-eminent theaters and has served in similar roles for Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater and Signature Theater. Joanne, a former actor, is currently Chief Operating Officer of Innovest Systems, LLC.

Megumi Eda - Co-Producer

Megumi Eda was born in Nagano, Japan. Leaving Japan at 16, she was invited to join the Hamburg Ballet School. For the next 15 years, as a member of the Hamburg Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet and the Rambert Dance Company, she worked with choreographers including John Neumeier, Christopher Bruce, Jiri Kylian, Lindsey Kemp, William Forsythe, Hans van Manen and David Dawson.
In 2004, she moved to New York as a founding member of Armitage Gone! Dance and has continued a close collaboration with Karole Armitage to this day. In addition to her work with Armitage she has begun to incorporate other art forms including sculpture and video into her own installations and performances. She has been collaborating with Yoshiko Chuma since 2014 as a performer/filmmaker. She won a Bessie Award in 2004.

Milton Kam - Director of Photography

As a cinematographer I am most at home in material which explores the human condition and the nuanced and complex world we live in. I like to examine the best way to interpret the essence of a story, with the director as my guide. I consider myself the conduit of his or her vision, it's guardian as well as it's audience.

My goal is to exceed a director's expectation of how ideas can be translated into imagery, and how this can ultimately touch, confront, inspire, thrill, move, and maybe even transform the viewer.

I enjoy my long-term collaborations with experienced storytellers such as Simon Rumley, Ela Thier and Rick Lopez, for the maturity and imagination with which they reflect on the world of their films. But I am also thrilled to embark on new relationships with emerging talents who inspire me and allow me to evolve in this ever-changing world.

I’ve been lucky that my work has taken me to almost every continent, shooting documentaries in places as diverse as Vietnam, Rwanda, Japan and Argentina; features in Great Britain, Sri Lanka, and Suriname; and television in New Zealand, Colombia, and the US.

My work as a cinematographer includes VANAJA, a rural drama set in India for which I received a 2008 Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best Cinematography and the award for Best Cinematography at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

My most prolific collaboration is with British director Simon Rumley, with whom I made RED WHITE & BLUE; JOHNNY FRANK GARRETT’S LAST WORD; FASHIONISTA; and the upcoming CROWHURST and ONCE UPON A TIME IN LONDON.

My credits also include television assignments such as Amazon Prime’s AMERICAN PLAYBOY: THE HUGH HEFNER STORY, Netflix’s ROMAN EMPIRE - REIGN OF BLOOD, NatGeo’s AMERICAN GENIUS and The History Channel’s KINGPIN. 

Suzanne Barnes - Costume Designer

Suzanne Barnes has over 20 years of experience in both the UK and US film industries. Suzanne developed her taste for features in 1997, whilst assisting OscarTM winning designer Sandy Powell on Todd Haynes' ‘The Velvet Goldmine'. In 2011 Suzanne was approached to design her first US SAG/DGA Film ‘Dark Hearts' in continued collaboration with director Rudolf Buitendach which was nominated as best international feature at Raindance in 2012. Her next feature project ‘Where the Road Runs Out', was shot in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Rotterdam and was selected to screen at the San Diego Film Festival 2014 and won Best Feature Award and a Black Reel Award for Outstanding World Cinema Motion Picture 2017. In 2013 she designed ‘In Embryo', shot in Los Angeles, the directional debut by lauded Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen. Other film work includes ‘Apartment 407' formerly known as 'Selling Isobel' about sex trafficking which won Best Indie film at the 2016 Raindance film festival in London and the ECU - European Independent Film Festival award 2017 for Best Film - Non-European. Suzanne co- designed the Thriller ‘Never Here' written and directed by Camille Thoman. Shot in New York in 2014 with a stellar cast including the late Sam Shepard. In 2016 Suzanne had the pleasure designing the costumes for esteemed actress Jennifer Morrison's directorial debut 'Sun Dogs' which won Best Picture Feature and Director at Mammoth Film Festival 2018. Suzanne's second collaboration with Ulrich Thomsen titled ‘Gutterbee' is currently in post-production. Filmed in New Mexico with Academy awarded cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. At the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Suzanne was part of the Grand Jury Prize Dramatic winning film, ‘Clemency.

Giovanni Spinelli - Composer

Giovanni Spinelli lives and works in New York where he composes music for film, television, theater and dance. His soundtracks vary from the lyrical minimalism of “Bis Gleich” (winner of more than thirty awards, including at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and included in the “shortlist” for the 2016 Oscar awards), to the heavy metal score for “Tamburlaine”, to his music for the choreographies of Martha Graham Dance Company, to his score for solo electric guitar performed live for the classic silent film "Sunrise" by F.W. Murnau (defined by the San Francisco Examiner as an "astounding mix of Hendrix, Badalamenti, Vaughn and The Edge"), to his multi-genre filmscores for the feature documentaries “American Cheerleader” and “Pop Star On Ice”(produced

AW - Actor playing Andrés

Nahéma Ricci - Actor - playing Alix

Aged 21, Nahéma Ricci was born in Montreal (Canada) to immigrant parents of Franco-Tunisian descent. She recently completed the 2018-2019 Dance as a Profession program at Danceworks School in Berlin (Germany). Previously, Nahéma obtained the lead role in Sophie Deraspe's feature film Antigone (scheduled for release in September 2019, ACPAV). She also played a lead character in the feature film Ailleurs directed by Samuel Matteau (2017, Vélocité productions).
As an actor, she has participated in several short and medium-length films by emerging filmmakers. She contributed to the various stages of creation associated with the production of the performance Cet intervalle (2017) and Atlas (2018) by director Morena Prats.
At the same time, she attended the theater section of the Cegep Saint-Laurent arts program from 2015 to 2017.

Philippe Brenninkmeyer - Actor - playing Gregory

Philippe has extensive experience in both American and European theater, television and film. He starred in the German series Liebe-Lügen-Leidenschaften and the hit series Freundschaft mit Herz.  Philippe has worked with the US Comedy Troupe Broken Lizard in their “cult” films Super Troopers, Beerfest and Slammin’ Salmon, I Heart Shakey, The Babymakers, and Dark Circles. 
Philippe has also appeared in Zazy, Choking Man (Ghost Robot) with Aaron Paul and Mandy Patinkin and in A Reasonable Doubt with Samuel L. Jackson and Dominic Cooper. 
Notable American television performances include: Sex and the City, Law & Order, Undercovers, Jimmy Kimmel live!, NCIS, NCIS LA and CSI Miami. Philippe also played a lead opposite Jon Hamm in the Mad Men episode “The Jet Set”.

Tara Lynn Orr - Actor - playing Leah

Tara studied acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts at The Atlantic Theatre Company and in London at the Lee Strasberg School. Tara has spent most of her life in the theatre. She was a founding member of World3 Theatre Company in NYC and a member of both Theatre Tribe, and NoHo Arts Center in Los Angeles. Her numerous credits include: Recent Tragic Events, The Intern, The Good Life, No Exit, The Cover of Live, The Sacrificial King, and many more. 
She’s also appeared in films and web-series such as PowerHouse and Those Damn Canadians. 
Tara’s extensive background as a theater actress and her consequent insight into character, became the natural foundation of her screenwriting. She and husband Philippe Brenninkmeyer founded the production company, avenueROAD films and Tara’s first foray into screenwriting was the award winning short film, BIS GLEICH, which was awarded over 35 international film festival awards. In 2016, it earned a spot on the Academy Awards short list. 

Tullan Holmqvist - Actor - playing Beth

Tullan Holmqvist is a Swedish-born actor, writer and investigator based in New York. Tullan has performed in theater, film and TV; recent NY theater roles include Lars Norén's The Last Supper, Strindberg’s The Father and Scandinavian American Theater Company's Gorilla; film roles include Chiaroscuri, Baby Mama and This Is Not My Dog. She has studied acting and screenwriting at NYU, Boston University, HB Studio and extensively with Michael Howard. Tullan is the co-author of the psychological thriller novel and screenplay The Woman in the Park (to be published August 26, 2019 - Beaufort Books). 

 

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