About the Film
CLIO lives alone in the desert with the ghost of her dead husband, BRYAN, and the child they never had.
She spends her days collecting stones and animal bones, and building a monument, her personal cathedral. Her isolated, almost feral existence is interrupted by the arrival of ALEX.
Alex is a war journalist and was a colleague and close friend of Bryan’s. We learn that Bryan was killed in Syria, beheaded by ISIS, after traveling there at Alex’s behest.
Alex has come to Clio’s home with an agenda: he wants the rights to Bryan’s last work to use in a film he is making.
Clio’s reaction to the horror of Bryan’s death has been to retreat from the world. She thinks that the only sane reaction to an insane world is to choose not to partake in it.
Alex’s grief and guilt has left him convinced that the only reaction to suffering in the world is to try to stop it. What unfolds between these two is a simmering dual in the desert between two ferociously conflicting views.
Is it better to look at suffering? Or is better to look away? Is it our moral obligation to try to stop suffering? Or is it true that every time we try to make things better we only succeed in making them worse?
In a world beset by violence and horror, what is worth living for?
Last year I felt overwhelmed by the amount of horror and suffering in the world. The unspeakable beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff struck a deep raw nerve. I could only imagine the pain that their families and loved ones were going through, are still going through.
How do you live in a world where if you google the name of your loved one, you’ll be confronted with the image replicated a million times, of your brother, lover, son kneeling in a desert with a knife at his throat, moments from death? How do you continue to live in a world that is so cruel, so violent, so barbaric, so wrong?
Of course, this last question applies to us all: at last count 210,000 civilians have been killed in Syria.
And yet the world does nothing. We do nothing. We sip our lattes, we take pictures of sunsets, we tweet about the lives of celebrities: it’s life as usual.
We choose not to look. The suffering is their problem, not ours.
This film is my response to that.
It’s also a response to the experience I had making my first two films. The experience of making my first one was creatively very pure. The experience making my second film was more challenging. I felt like I made a thousand compromises, and although I’m proud of the final work, the process which gave birth to it is one I’d never choose to repeat. With both films, the shooting schedules were so tight that often I felt we were just making our days rather than making a film.
So I started to conceive of a different way to make my third film, OF DUST AND BONES, a way that will give me real creative freedom as well as time to work with my actors on set in a different way, time to go deep, to shoot when the light is right, to explore the scenes in the moment of filming in a penetrating, profound way. To truly make the best film that we are capable of.
I’ve had a huge paradigm shift in my approach to filmmaking since making my second film. With Chris Byrne, we launched the Rebel Heart Film Workshop, where we share step by step how to make a stand out indie film. We are making OF DUST AND BONES 100% according to the principles that we teach.
Learn more about the Rebel Heart + Of Dust and Bones collaboration
Or please check out our website, Rebel Heart Film where I will also be blogging about the making of the film.