Scene Here: Dusted off at the Coolidge; a year of women at the MFA
Actors Alessandro Nivola and Emily Mortimer, who’ve been married since 2003, are also producers. The couple will appear at the Coolidge Corner Theatre March 3 for a 2 p.m. screening of director Shawn Snyder’s debut feature, “To Dust.” Mortimer and the Boston-born Nivola will engage in a post-screening discussion with the audience about producing the film.
“To Dust” stars Hungarian actor Géza Röhrig (“Son of Saul”) as Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor in upstate New York who is mourning his wife’s death from cancer. Struggling to find solace in religion and Jewish folklore, Shmuel becomes increasingly obsessed with the science of a body’s decomposition. This leads to an unlikely partnership with Albert (Matthew Broderick), a biology professor at the local community college, and the two become involved in a series of macabre events.
Snyder, who earned a BA in religion from Harvard, did extensive research while writing the dark comedy with friend and collaborator Jason Begue. Mortimer read Snyder’s script when she was a judge on a panel for the Tribeca Film Institute and agreed to produce it with Nivola through their King Bee Productions, a company they established in 2012. Their first project was a six-part television series, “Doll & Em,” which Mortimer wrote and starred in and that aired on HBO.
“To Dust” screened at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the Narrative Audience Award and Snyder received the Best New Narrative Director Award. In November, Snyder appeared with “To Dust” at the Boston Jewish Film Festival.
Mortimer most recently starred as Jane Banks in “Mary Poppins Returns.” Nivola, the Provincetown International Film Festival’s 2009 honoree for its Excellence in Acting Award, starred on Broadway in 2014 opposite Bradley Cooper in a revival of “The Elephant Man.” He played a Hasidic rabbi in director Sebastián Lelio’s “Disobedience” (2017). The same Hasidic consultant for “Disobedience” visited the set of “To Dust,” helping ensure authenticity, according to Snyder.
Go to www.coolidge.org.
Best of 2018
MFA FILM celebrates women’s history month with 5 Women Filmmakers, showcasing contemporary female directors whose films were among the most critically lauded last year. Running March 3-20, the series opens with Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace,” about a war veteran (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) who are living off the grid in the Pacific Northwest. Josephine Decker’s “Madeline’s Madeline” (March 9) stars newcomer Helena Howard as the teenage title character, who’s pushed by her ambitious theater director (Molly Parker) to explore her troubled history with her mother (Miranda July), blurring the lines between performance and reality.
The Boston Society of Film Critics named Lynne Ramsay best director of 2018 for “You Were Never Really Here” (March 14), a dark tale about a traumatized veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who has channeled his rage into tracking down missing girls and punishing their captors. Colombian filmmakers Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra followed up their 2015 Oscar-nominated “Embrace of the Serpent” with “Birds of Paradise” (March 17), an equally audacious saga about drug trafficking in Colombia in the 1970s, centered on the indigenous Wayúu people. Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama” (March 20), Argentina’s Oscar submission for best foreign language film, is a historical drama, set in the 18th century, about a South American-born officer of the Spanish Crown who dutifully awaits a letter from the king granting him a transfer. When Zama realizes his hopes for leaving aren’t going to be realized, he joins a party of soldiers in pursuit of a dangerous bandit.
Go to www.mfa.org.