The Brooklyn Film Festival isn’t Hollywood, but the story being told by director Emily Elizabeth Thomas and TBWA\Chiat\Day New York for the festival was inspired by true headlines of sexual misconduct in the entertainment capital.
The organizers of the 2019 Brooklyn Film Festival (31 May–9 June) are going beyond Brooklyn this year to tell the stories that Hollywood won’t tell. They're sharing those stories through ‘The Gathering,’ which tells the tales of three Hollywood actors who never got the part, depicted during a chance encounter that reveals their shared experiences. The costumes, voice over, subtleties and symbolism 'speak' in a way that Hollywood – and the world – will understand.
In the film, a woman dressed as a 40s-era spy sits at a table with a nun, who is praying and reading the Bible. A woman dressed as an elf comes over and sits with them. As the nun speaks, she states that all three “have a cross to bear.” She then says she was told that if she prayed hard enough and sacrificed she would “receive the call” and the role would be hers. The call never came.
The other two recount their stories of harassment, as well, all in character. Viewers will come to realize that this kind of ‘casting couch’ behavior – made famous by the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo movement – are all too familiar in Hollywood, but the issue still isn’t addressed in entertainment and is far from being solved and talked about openly.
The voice over at the end, by Ashley Judd – who famously helped kick off the #MeToo movement when she told The New York Times about being harassed by Weinstein – says “Every story matters. Even the ones Hollywood doesn’t tell.”
Said Amy Ferguson, executive creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York: "We made a very conscious decision to do a short film for the Brooklyn Film Festival this year, instead of a commercial. The most important thing for us was to tell this story in a way Hollywood would understand: through the beauty of film. Every choice we made, starting with the director, the look and feel, down to the music, all served this purpose."
Inspired by the acceleration of women’s movements, the Brooklyn Film Festival’s theme statement aims to empower filmmakers, who are thinking and working in critical systems, to think outside of the box and against all odds.
"The final product had to feel authentic, but also cinematic. With each story inspired by real accounts, we had to retell them in a way that was believable. We wanted to make sure we were creating a piece of content that people actually wanted to see, that would make real-world impact,” said Julia Neumann, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York.
The three-minute film debuted online at the Brooklyn Film Festival website and is free for everybody to watch, regardless of location or ticket holder status, to remind people that every story does matter, and to support those who are telling them. Shorter 30-second and two-minute cuts of the film will be screened before each Brooklyn Film Festival 2019 film program.
This year’s Brooklyn Film Festival will feature the largest presence of female directors within a single festival edition to date, with women accounting for four out of six festival programmers.