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August 7, 2007

Reeler Flashback: Descent Climbs to Surface

Director Lugacy on old friend Rosario Dawson's polarizing rape-revenge trip

This is sort of a part-time week at Reeler HQ, so today we look back to Tribeca '07, where The Reeler got some quality time with writer-director Talia Lugacy. Her disturbing drama Descent stars and was co-produced by Rosario Dawson, who portrays a college student whose life implodes following a vicious rape. Her subsequent quest for revenge (and its tactics) shocked and polarized festival audiences, and the debate is sure to continue when Descent opens Friday in New York.

At the time, however, the ReelerTV crew caught up with Lugacy and Reeler contributor Jennifer Merin had a few words with her in our Director Spotlight section:

THE REELER: You and Rosario Dawson go back a ways. How did you connect? How important is that connection to you work?

TALIA LUGACY: It’s phenomenally important. We go back to when we were acting students at the Strasburg Institute in NYC, where we both grew up. She was 16, I was 15. I was there because I knew I wanted to direct. We hit it off immediately and had dreams of making films together as early as that. Since then, we’ve made short films of all genres -- at that time and through my film school days. The reason Descent exists is because she and I wanted to make a film together that she would act in and produce, and I would co-produce and direct.

R: What made this script the one to go with?

TL: We were determined to do films that matter to us about things we passionately care about, no matter how difficult it would be to make them. Also, we love films that are older -- I have a passion for films from the '60s and '70s -- that allow you to explore topics rather than tell you how to feel about them, that contain different genres and tones within themselves, that change within themselves without explaining themselves. There’s a lot of qualities of films we love that we wanted to imbue our first feature with, and we were able to do that with this script.

R: Descent is about rape -- is the story personal, do you see this as a women’s subject, or...

TL: In a way, it’s a woman’s subject but the film’s no more a woman’s film than a man’s. We wrote this script for Rosario, so naturally there’s a female perspective. But neither of us were shaking our fists in the air and being feminists about a subject that’s so complex. As you see at the end of the film, none of these characters is the good one, the hero -- you don’t know if they’re good or bad. That’s why it’s difficult for me to put the film in a gender category, and I wouldn‘t want audiences to think of it in that way. Rosario had a very good comment when we were talking about this issue yesterday. She said, “We’re not feminists,” we’re humanists.” That’s what we hope this film will be seen as.

Read the rest of the interview here, and look for Eric Kohn's review Thursday on The Reeler.



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