Ana is a young woman trying to reimagine her life after her mother's death during the course of one California spring. Filled with resentment over her father's mistakes, Ana feels disconnected from herself and everyone around her. Swept up by new romance and a warm reunion with her half-sister, Ana is so taken by the newfound support and love in her life that she sets out to find someone—anyone other than herself—to help. She finds a volunteer project in Maria, a reclusive hoarder who has alienated her own family with her compulsive behavior. As the two become unlikely friends and confidantes, Ana finds herself in an emotionally complex relationship that reveals some uncomfortable truths about herself.
First-time writer/director Jasmine McGlade Chazelle (producer of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, TFF '09) returns to the Festival with a vivid and authentic portrait of grief through a young woman's journey to find her own way, inspired by supporting actress Lauren Fales' life. Judy Marte (Raising Victor Vargas) delivers a naturalistic performance as Ana and strikes chemistry with two-time Golden Globe winner and Academy Award® nominee Karen Black as Maria.
Director's Statement Collapse
I am drawn to the energy and drama that comes from blending non-fiction with fiction. What I'm most interested in is authenticity. With Maria My Love, I set out to make a truthful and visceral film about a young woman torn apart by loss and put back together again by the people she meets during the course of one California spring.
The story revolves around Ana, a young woman grappling with grief and resentment. The character is played by two-time Spirit Award nominee Judy Marte, who I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work with. I was drawn to Judy in particular for her naturalism, her understated magnetism, and her quiet rapport with the camera.
The film features characters who both challenge and inspire Ana and spur her to reimagine her life. One such character is a compulsive hoarder named Maria who lives in Ana's neighborhood of Highland Park. The title character is played by legendary actress and two-time Golden Globe winner and Academy Award® nominee Karen Black. It was truly an honor working with Karen.
During production I aimed to give myself emotionally and intellectually to the actors so they could reveal themselves to me and expose themselves to each other. I encouraged them to bring their ideas to the table. While I wrote a script, I wanted the actors to see it more as a guide than something they must rigidly adhere to. I therefore welcomed improvisation into our process to give life and freedom to the film, and to encourage the actors to take liberties within the structured framework.
In the end, I hope to have achieved a vivid portrait of loss, and a naturalistic film about the unfolding of relationships and the way people affect each other. Within us all is a capacity to triumph over life's most difficult challenges—something I hope my film will honestly reflect in its realistic yet optimistic view of recovery.
Cast & Credits Collapse
Primary Cast Judy Marte, Karen Black, Brian Rieger, Lauren Fales
Director Jasmine McGlade Chazelle
Screenwriter Jasmine McGlade Chazelle
Story By Jasmine McGlade Chazelle, Lauren Fales
Producer Jennifer Glynn, Tiana Matthews, Jasmine McGlade Chazelle
Cinematographer Brian Outland
Editor Katy Skjerping
Composer Maxwell Drummey