Monday night at the Spangler Auditorium at the Harvard Business School, a screening was held for the feature-film debut of director Justin Lerner and his thought-provoking independent project, Girlfriend. The film which also marks the debut of Evan Sneider, the first actor with Down Syndrome to star in a motion picture in North America.
The film which made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival, and has been holding screenings around the country, also costars, Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), Shannon Woodword (“Raising Hope”), and youngster Nate Krawshuk.
The film follows the story of Evan, played by Sneider, who pursues his high school crush, Candy, played by Woodward, while she is still involved in a volatile relationship with her young son’s (Krawshuk) father, played by Rathbone. The movie, which was filmed primarily in Wayland, Massachusetts, brings to light complex issues regarding love, human sexuality, financial hardships, and complex interpersonal relationships. Sneider, Lerner, and Krawshuk were all in attendance in the film as well as producer/actor Jerad Anderson, and actors Joseph Turnbull, Daniel J. Turnbull, and Darren MacDonald.
The screening was well received by the nearly packed auditorium, and the Q & A with Lerner and the stars in attendance following the film revealed the level of contemplation the film invoked.
“I wanted to utilize Evan as an actor and a person I know in a way that I find interesting. I wanted to create a story that can make circumstance such that Evan could have a romantic relationship with someone who does not have Down Syndrome,” said Lerner, when asked of his inspiration for the film.
Sneider, whose magnanimity quickly endeared him to the audience, spoke about his regard for his costars with brilliantly honest laconicism.
“Justin is a wonderful director. I have the best costars, they all should be very proud,” said Sneider.
In addition to it’s heavy topics, the film’s cinematography is garnering high praise. Quyen Tran, a long-time friend and former classmate of Lerner’s, paints the Massachusetts fall scenery “as if Monet came to the town of Wayland and captured his brush strokes in motion” as articulated by actor Joseph Turnbull.
The film will continue to have screenings around the country, as well as a week-long run at the Coolidge Corner Theater (September 30-October 6). The film has already won Best Director at the 2011 White Sands Film Festival, as well as the Grand Jury Prize. It also won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature at the 2011 Woods Hole Film Festival, as well as Best of the Festival. They hope to release it on Netflix, iTunes, and OnDemand sometime next year.
While Twilight fans anxiously count down the days till the next installment of the series, New Moon, hits the silver screen, those ‘in the know’ in the greater Boston area recently had a chance to view one of the sexy stars up-close and personal. Jackson Rathbone, alias “Jasper Hale”, from the popular vampire movies, just wrapped filming in Wayland on an independent film entitled Girlfriend. The Justin Lerner directed film recently finished several weeks of shooting in Wayland, Natick, and other areas on the Boston outskirts.
The film, which is set to be released in 2010, costars Shannon Woodward, whose resume includes appearances on the Boston-set TV shows “Boston Public” and “Crossing Jordan”. The indie flick follows the story of Rathbone’s character, a small-town mechanic, who finds himself in a relationship with Woodward’s character, a single mother. The relationship takes a dramatic turn when it is complicated by the involvement of a young man with Down’s syndrome, played by Evan Sneider.
With production only recently wrapping, Rathbone will be returning to the Eclipse set in Vancouver, in order to finish filming for what also will be a 2010 release. The third installment of the Twilight saga is currently filming in Canada.
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