A reclusive, elderly widow, Anna Marshall (Viola Harris), lives in quiet desperation until she begins receiving daily calls from a silent stranger. An odd and mysterious friendship evolves between the two, as Anna begins to share her life experiences with startling honesty. Empty days are given new hope, but when the calls abruptly end, a devastated Anna is compelled to surprising action to fill the unbearable void.
This film screens as part of the Dramatic Shorts I program and before the feature Narciso.
Director Flavio Alves is an alum of the Tallahassee Film Festival. His first short film Even In My Dreams screened at our 2009 festival to great audience acclaim. This is Flavio's third short as director, and in 2010 had it's world premiere at the Palm Spring International Film Festival where it won Best of Fest. We are pleased to be able to present this latest work from an up-and-coming filmmaker to the Tallahassee audience.
Fun Fact! The film’s star, Viola Harris, whose films include: Choke (2008); Sydney Pollack's The Slender Thread (1965), and Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry (1997), plays the role of “Anna Marshall,” a reclusive, elderly widow. Siobhan Fallon, who plays "Julia" has notable film appearances that include: The Negotiator (1998); Men in Black (1997); Striptease (1996); and Forrest Gump (1994). In addition, Fallon has appeared 20 times on Saturday Night Live.
During filming, I often thought of my childhood in Rio de Janeiro and the integral role my grandmother played in my upbringing. It was genuinely inspiring to watch her bound over the hurdles that come with age. Although I now live on the opposite side of the globe, more then three decades later, I still remember her strength and perseverance.
Soon after I arrived in the United States, I realized that loneliness and depression are common themes in the elderly universe. Without the help of close relatives, some have no one to call for help or solace and furthermore have no meaningful structures of community or support. Aging often brings illness, reduced income and loss of family and friends. So rather than ignore the problems facing the aging communities, I decided to build upon them by creating films that push these issues into the spotlight.
The Secret Friend is my third film and just like the others I have directed, the elderly character is the protagonist. I came across the story about 12 years ago after reading a collection of short stories written by famous Brazilian author, Joao Silverio Trevisan. The story that follows Anna, an elderly widow, spoke to me in a very powerful way. After my initial reading, I remember thinking it would make a wonderful film but never dreamed it would make it to the big screen, much less, that I would be the one to direct it.
So I was both surprised and delighted when Trevisan agreed to allow me to shoot the film. I had just finished film school and was very enthusiastic about my first project in the professional arena. However, I never imagined the journey that awaited me. I was fortunate enough to have a great producer, Nicholas Eisenberg, who helped me bring the film alive. I have also been blessed with an amazing crew and talented cast who gave everything they had to this project. Through the invaluable collaboration, we began to reshape the film from a short story to a timeless tale.
Now that the film is ready to be shown to people around the world, I hope that it will not only be of entertainment value but will also become a window into the lives of an often invisible segment of society.
– Director Flavio Alves, New York
Contact: Queens Picture, New York, USA