USA, 2007, 96 minutes
Fri, May 2 / 6:30 / PFA / BALL02P
Sun, May 4 / 12:45 / Kabuki / BALL04K
Wed, May 7 / 6:30 / Kabuki / BALL07K
A man, a woman and a child battle each other and themselves in the aftermath of a tragic death. Unfolding in the Mississippi Delta with a cast of nonprofessional actors, Ballast is a story of the repercussions of a suicide on three people in a small town. It is initially unclear what their relationship is to each other, but this is slowly revealed. The film is composed with hushed tones and smolderingly raw emotion—all set against the faded greens, blues and grays of the bleak yet majestic Delta. The film’s soundtrack uses no music at all, featuring exclusively the sounds of the natural environment. And though the characters appear to be trapped in a desperate situation, we learn that this is not quite true, and the film then begins an uplifting journey. As one character says, it’s about a “fucked-up kind of love.” It may be helpful to mention filmmakers like Charles Burnett, Terrence Malick and the Dardenne brothers as points of comparison, but this film creates a world and a profound emotional force all its own. A debut feature, it breathes new life into the dormant, too-commercialized world of American independent cinema, a term now drained of most of its meaning. This film came out of nowhere, and you are likely to be rather overwhelmed by it. Words like “astonishing” and “extraordinary” are badly overused. Ballast deserves these superlatives and more.
West Coast Premiere.