Writer/director Josh Sternfeld's feature debut Winter Solstice offers a unique perspective on the family drama, using compelling storytelling and masterful performances to evoke the raw emotional dynamics of a suburban family dealing with a tragic loss. Jim Winters is a widower raising two teenage sons, Gabe and Pete. Since the death of his mother, Gabe has taken over in helping raise his younger brother. Suffocating under the responsibility of raising Pete, working in a factory, his demanding father, and difficulties with his girlfriend, Gabe decides to leave. Pete, on the other hand, doesn't take things that seriously and is slacking off in school although he shows true potential to succeed. Jim struggles to deal with the changing course of his family, trying to connect with his sons while moving on with his own life - with the help of new neighbor, Molly. The multi-layered relationships that exist in Winter Solstice truthfully capture the heart of familial bonds, anchored by an adept performance by Anthony LaPaglia as Jim. His scenes with both his sons, brilliantly portrayed by up-and-coming actors Aaron Stanford (Gabe) and Mark Webber (Pete), deftly convey the subtlety that Sternfeld's script was meant to evoke. With an equally remarkable supporting cast including Alison Janney as Molly and Ron Livingston as Pete's teacher, Winter Solstice is a moving portrait of a family working through the challenge of loss.
Director's Statement Collapse
Winter Solstice began as a collection of different ideas and emotions that I had regarding my upbringing. Much of it revolved around the suburbs, and how families are raised there. I wanted to show suburban life as I really experienced it, without all the irony you sometimes see in other films. I also wanted to explore the concept of fear--fear of expressing yourself, fear of your own emotions, fear of change--and how these fears could infect a family, particularly a family of men. Then I started thinking about how strange and difficult it can be for parents to say good-bye when their kids move out. So I had a number of different feelings and ideas, and I just tried to channel everything into the narrative.
About the Director(s)Collapse
Josh Sternfeld was born in 1972 and completed the Graduate Film Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1998. His first short film, Balloons, Streamers (1997) premiered at the New York York Film Festival, and subsequently Sundance. Broadcast rights, for Balloons, Streamers, were sold to Canal+ in Europe and to Showtime and the Sundance Channel in the U.S., where it still airs frequently. After completing his second short film, Colin's Date (1998), Sternfeld was an assistant editor at Steeplechase Films, a documentary production company. While there, he worked on Ric Burns' Emmy-winning series New York: A Documentary Film (1999). Winter Solstice is his feature debut as writer/director.