FilmRise Buys Sean Brosnan’s SXSW Thriller ‘My Father Die’
Film Reporter Dave McNary Film Reporter
Film and television distributor FilmRise has acquired exclusive worldwide distribution rights for Sean Brosnan’s debut feature film, “My Father Die,” for a winter theatrical release.
“My Father Die” made its world premiere at the 2016 South by Southwest festival. It’s directed by Sean Brosnan, son of actor Pierce Brosnan, who produces the film alongside Sean’s producing partners at KnightMarcher, Sanja Banic and Orian Williams.
The movie follows a man who has been deaf and mute since having his hearing knocked out at the age of 12. For the past two decades, he has been training to avenge himself on his attacker, a man who also killed his older brother. Now that his nemesis is out of prison, he will finally get his chance.
The film also stars John Schneider (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) and Candace Smith (“End of Watch”).
In his review, Variety’s Dennis Harvey said “My Father Die” represented a “bold and talented debut.”
“Having first caught our eye at SXSW, we are thrilled to be announcing our acquisition of this gripping debut from filmmaker Sean Brosnan,” FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher said. “Serving as an unapologetic tale of revenge, we are confident ‘My Father Die’ will captivate audiences when released in theaters this winter.”
The deal was negotiated between Fisher and FilmRise VP Max Einhorn with CAA.
Last Edit: May 3, 2016 12:27:15 GMT -5 by eaz35173
First-time feature director Sean Brosnan (forever to be referred to as “Son of Pierce”) brings us a slice of Southern Gothic-cum-sand-swept-revenge-actioner with the hard-hitting My Father Die.
An experience you won’t forget in a hurry, My Father Die is a beautiful-looking slice of brutality and wanton destruction that holds itself together despite a few niggling mistakes and lapses in logic. Check it out.
★★★★☆ Revenge is a dish best served over several courses in Sean Brosnan's brutal redneck noir tale My Father, Die. Full of Old Testament values and punishing degradation, it pits a father and son against each other in skirmishes that go well beyond traditional family rows into the realm of pure Freudian nightmare. Brosnan dedicates the film to the controversial Irish playwright and poet J.M. Synge, whose famous play The Playboy of the Western World is - like Brosnan's directorial debut - themed around patricide.
SXSW Film Review: ‘My Father Die’ Dennis Harvey Film Critic
SXSW Film Festival March 15, 2016 | 11:52PM PT
Sean Brosnan's accomplished feature debut is a primal bayou-country revenge tale bordering on horror.
The swamp-thing progeny of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Night of the Hunter” (with a little “Cape Fear” thrown in), “My Father Die” offers blood-and-thunder Southern-gothic excess both tempered and heightened by vivid directorial texturing. Writer-helmer Sean Brosnan’s debut feature after several shorts isn’t exactly a horror film, but this thematically simple, aesthetically complex revenge tale will find strongest initial support among fans at genre fests, with word of mouth there possibly spurring niche theatrical pickups as well as more assured home-format sales.
A black-and-white opening sequence finds the dirt-poor Rawlings brothers running wild in Louisiana bayou country, where the teenage Chester (Chester Rushing) promises to initiate the pubescent Asher in the mysteries of sex via willing young neighbor Nana (Trina LaFargue). Unfortunately, their dad, Ivan (former British pro boxer Gary Stretch), considers her his own property — never mind that he’s still married to the boys’ mother — and when he discovers her messing around, no parental instincts soften his furious response. The resulting violence leaves one son dead, the other permanently deaf and mute.
Thus silenced, a decade later Asher (now played by Joe Anderson) is living with his slatternly, bedridden mother (Susan McPhail) when they get some very bad news: Daddy has been released four years early due to prison overcrowding. Junior immediately starts doing push-ups, sawing off a shotgun and otherwise preparing for battle. He’s not overreacting, either: Ivan is only at liberty a few hours before he bludgeons to death a plainclothes cop (John Schneider) who gets too chummy. Figuring to strike before he’s struck down, Asher manages to locate his father and take him by surprise. However, it’s a catastrophic mistake, after this successful attack, to then leave without making absolutely sure that Pops is dead.
There’s nothing terribly original or surprising about the bare bones of Brosnan’s script, in which the white-trash father from hell (duly evoking Robert Mitchum’s iconic turns in “Hunter” and “Cape”) mows down everything in his path before the purest forces of good around can finally vanquish his near-supernatural evil. But Brosnan, who studied poetry before launching a medium-profile acting career (he plays a small part here), brings a poet’s flamboyance and unpredictable rhythms to this seemingly trashy material. Not that he doesn’t embrace its more lurid aspects — indeed, particularly nasty sequences involving homophobia and rape may cross a line for some viewers. But “My Father Die’s” adventuresome mix of aesthetic and tonal approaches brings coherence to its leaps from tenderness to bloodbaths, from black humor to a kind of hallucinatory religious fervor.
Not all of it works, but this is a bold and talented debut, all the more impressive for transcending (while embracing) some shameless exploitation tropes. Performances are well tuned, with much of the pic’s effectiveness owing to the genuine warmth in scenes between Anderson, Candace Smith’s grown-up Nana and Jonathan Billions as her playful young son. Other turns range from the poker-faced to the zestily stereotypical. The impressive tech/design package is highlighted by Marc Shap’s vivid widescreen lensing and a flavorful roots-rock score by Justin Small and Ohad Benchetrit.
Sean Brosnan reveals the profound impact that Larry Clark and Harmony Korine's movie had on his angry, rebellious teenage years. By Sean Brosnan | January 27, 2017
In 1995, I was 10 years old living in California’s Malibu mountains. My mother had passed away from ovarian cancer two years before and my father was traveling the world for work, paying off four years’ worth of medical bills and making sure we stayed afloat. I felt isolated, alone and had a constant fear of abandonment. The only neighbors we had were more than a mile away, and the closest thing I had to friends were our 10 dogs. All big dogs, ranging from rottweilers to German shepherds.
Laura, my live-in nanny, would drive me to and from the local Catholic school. I hated that school and loathed the uniform, which consisted of khaki trousers and a white collared shirt. Most of all, I resented what the school stood for. Catholicism. Religion. God. I had a beef with the man upstairs and to say I was angry would be an understatement.
First my rage came out sideways, days spent killing lizards with my Black Widow slingshot and shooting birds out of trees with my BB gun. I was a little serial killer in the making. One winter’s day at school, I thought it would be funny to piss in the holy water before the Friday service. The priest walked down the middle aisle sprinkling the blessed liquid onto all the students and teachers. If I hadn’t been the only one hiding under my jacket, laughing hysterically, I probably would have gotten away with it.
Not surprisingly, I was kindly asked to leave and ended up in the public school across the street. It was there that I met other kids like me. Kids with divorced parents, kids with alcoholic fathers, kids with hippie parents who believed their children should learn the hard lessons of life on their own and without guidance.
Nick, Jacob and Toby had been friends for a while. As I was the new kid, the leader of the trio, Nick, decided to pick a fight with me on my first day. I accepted the challenge and met him in the parking lot after school. The fight was quick and with no real winner. We both ended up with bloody noses and cut lips, which immediately cemented our bond and I was invited over to Nick’s the next night to watch a movie.
Laura dropped me off at his house, which was old and disheveled. (These were the days when Malibu still had its rustic charm, before Starbucks, Nobu and Britney Spears moved into town.) Nick’s father was away for work and his mother was out at dinner, so his 16-year-old brother was left in charge. When I arrived, he was out picking us up pepperoni pizza and a video from Blockbuster. The movie was Kids, written by Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark, which depicts a day in the life of a group of street kids in New York City.
Shot in a docu style, realistic and gritty, and using all non-actors, Kids had a profound effect on me. It was unlike any movie I had seen before and after those 95 minutes, my outlook on life had changed. I felt a deep kinship and empathy toward the character of Casper (played by Justin Pierce), an alcoholic skateboarder with no regard for anything or anyone besides himself and his friends.
I wanted to emulate Casper and began skateboarding religiously with the rest of the guys behind the local Pizza Hut. We would scrape up enough money to ask Jeremy, the local homeless guy, to buy us beer and cans of whipped cream so we could huff nitrous. Punk rock became my music of choice and smoking weed a daily occurrence. Every weekend, we would meet up at Nick’s house and watch Kids on his VCR, smoking cigarettes out the window until his dad got home from work and passed out in front of the TV.
A year later, I was expelled from that public school for vandalizing the school property and smoking pot in the bathroom. I could have ratted on the rest of the guys, but I asked myself, “What would Casper do?” Needless to say, my father was furious and I ended up being homeschooled for a year, until junior high. I was then enrolled into Malibu High School, where my career with drugs and alcohol really flourished. I was 13 and experimenting with psychedelics and cocaine. I’d lost touch with Nick and the rest of the boys during my year of homeschooling, but I now fell in with a group of guys four years my senior. They had a violent reputation and were already dealing drugs. They reminded me of the characters in Kids. Automatically, I wanted in. A lot of them lived in Venice, so after school I would either catch the bus or hitchhike to meet up with them on the boardwalk to skate and cause trouble. Life was good for a while. For a minute, I felt as if I belonged.
Her name was Molly. She was 16, with long blond hair and a nose ring. She was by far the most exotic thing I had ever laid my eyes upon. I lied and told her I was 15 and we developed a little relationship. I fell in love with her that summer and one night at a house party I found Molly rolling on ecstasy. I was drunk off cheap vodka and tried to make small talk, until I found myself being led upstairs into the master bedroom. Molly pushed me onto the bed and started kissing me hard, then she took my hand and slid it down her pants and asked me if I wanted to have sex. I asked her if she had a condom and she said she didn’t care. My little 13-year-old mind nearly exploded and then the final scene from Kids flashed inside my internal projector. The scene where Casper has sex with an unconscious Jenny (Chloë Sevigny), who has just been diagnosed HIV positive. Before I could say another word, Molly had my pants around my ankles. I was trying to stop her from taking off my underwear, when all of a sudden the door burst open and James, the leader of the older guys, stumbled in with a few others.
“He’s fucking your girl, James!”
I was unaware Molly was in a relationship or having sex with any of the older guys. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have pursued her in the first place.
Before I could explain myself, I was punched in the side of the head so hard a few of my teeth cracked. I landed on the floor and struggled to pull my pants up in embarrassment as a barrage of kicks and stomps rained down on the back of my head and torso. Then one swift kick to the temple knocked me out.
When I awoke, the room was empty and my blood was splattered on the cream carpet. I hobbled into the bathroom, examined my swollen face and began to cry. Why would they do this to me? Why didn’t Molly tell me she was with James? How could I have been so gullible? Of course, now that I have lived through the pain of adolescence, the answer is clear as day to me. I was a kid, and sometimes kids get lost, hurt and abandoned. Kids make mistakes, and in those formative teenage years, they can have profound consequences.
Kids captured that horror, that pain and those consequences, perfectly. Watching the film as a boy, there was something that I identified with, though I didn’t yet know why. I thought it was because of the way Casper styled his hair, or the way in which he and his friends lived so recklessly. That was part of it, but the real reason that movie captured me was the sadness, the pain and sadness the characters covered up with anger and teenage rebellion. The fear they covered up with bravado and drugs.
Would my teenage years have been different if I hadn’t have watched Kids? Maybe, but that’s not the point. The point is I needed that film during that time in my life. It gave me an identity and something to latch onto. Ultimately, it helped strip away the layers of who I thought I should be, and helped show me who I am. Those lessons weren’t learned over night. (In fact, it took many more years of near-death experiences and bad choices to finally get the message, but those are stories for another time!)
Now when I watch that film, as a father, a husband and a filmmaker, I realize just how lost I was and how lucky I am. It now serves as a reminder of the path I could have chosen and how powerful and influential the moving image can be, especially for a child, for a kid.
Last Edit: Jan 29, 2017 19:55:49 GMT -5 by eaz35173