Awarded a Crystal Bear at the Berlinale 2020 and passed by the La Rochelle Cinema Festival a few weeks ago, Alexandre Rockwell’s Sweet Thing is hitting theaters. Zoom in on this intimate film and its sensitive look at childhood.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
New Bedford, Massachusetts. Young teenager Billie and her little brother Nico struggle to find their place in a dysfunctional family. Torn between an alcoholic but loving father and a mother too often absent, their life oscillates between discomfort and incomprehension. During a hectic summer, they meet Malik, a young boy in search of freedom and decide to run away with him in order to live their own adventure.
Sweet Thing written and directed by Alexandre Rockwell. With Will Patton, Karyn Parsons, Lana Rockwell and Nico Rockwell.
Released in theaters July 21, 2021.
A FILM AT THE HEIGHT OF CHILDREN
Childhood is a theme that captivates Alexandre Rockwell. Already addressed in his previous film, Little Feet (2013), this subject was once again imposed on the director for Sweet Thing. “As soon as I finished filming Little Feet, I knew I wanted to make other films about children before they came of age. Their very personal connection to memories and the unfolding of events fascinates me”, He explains in the press kit of the feature film.
The difference being that this time he was not interested in toddlers, but in young people of 11 and 15 years old. “In this new chapter, children come out of the shadows of childhood to face the harshness of the adult world. They are no longer under control. The adults who revolve around them are unable to take care of them, and put them in situations they are not meant to handle. It is for this reason that they flee and take refuge in a world where poetry, friendship and freedom naturally go hand in hand ”, says Alexandre Rockwell who has perfectly succeeded in transcribing this pivotal moment in the life of a child.
A FAMILY MATTER
To embody his heroes, Billie and Nico, the filmmaker chose none other than his two children, Lana and Nico Rockwell, whom he had already shot in Little Feet. As for the role of the absent mother of the latter, he offered it to … his wife Karyn Parsons.
The film is therefore very personal for Alexandre Rockwell who also hired his friend Will Patton to play the father of the protagonists. He is also an executive producer on the project, as are others close to the director, such as Sam Rockwell (with whom he is not related) or Jennifer Beals.
Filmed in 16 mm and in black and white, Sweet Thing also has the particularity of having been financed via Kickstarter, which assured its director to have “total freedom of creation”.
“VS‘was essential because such an exploration involves risks. I did not know if the children could play and reach this level of play, I had to trust them blindly”, Justifies Alexandre Rockwell. And he did well to have confidence in his children, who radiate the screen, in particular Lana, whose performance as a teenager who dreams of being close to Billie Holiday, moves a lot.
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