Steven Bognars Gravel
accepts local film
Of the 50 short films the Sundance Film Festival accepted this year from
a pool of over 4,000 shorts submitted, local filmmaker Steven Bognars
Gravel made the cut. It will premiere at the festival on Jan.
Bognar wrote and directed the film, which was shot in Yellow Springs and
in surrounding communities with a local cast.
The story explores the relationship of a mother, played by theater director
Louise Smith, and daughter, played by local resident Iris Bieri, as they
travel across the country in search of the mothers ex-boyfriend,
who is played by local resident Bruce Cromer.
After helping his partner, Julia Reichert, who produced the film, raise
her daughter, Bognar wanted a chance to explore the nature of the relationship
between mothers and daughters.
The mother-daughter relationship is one of the most, if not the
most, challenging and complex relationships that can happen amongst family
members, Bognar said in a phone interview from New York, where he
is currently working.
Gravel also provided Bognar an opportunity to direct actors,
something a full-time documentary filmmaker does not get to do. Though
the films actors had more experience with stage performance, they
all rose to the occasion, Bognar said.
The actors make this movie, Bognar said. I learned how
to direct actors from the actors in this film. That was a gift they gave
Two other actors from town, Latham Zearfoss and Willa Dallas, make an
appearance in the film. Like other film projects Bognar has tackled in
Yellow Springs, local participation provided the foundation for a satisfying
and well-received result, he said.
Though Gravel is Bognars third film to appear at Sundance,
it is his first fiction film to be accepted. Picture Day,
a playful short featuring photos of children at an area elementary school,
was shown at Sundance in 2000. In 1996, his family documentary, Personal
Belongings, was accepted in the documentary category.
The thrill doesnt go away, Bognar said. Every
time you go to bat the odds are so much against you.
Gravel will debut locally sometime after the festival, in
late January or February.