Debra Granik’sacclaimed drama Leave No Trace, about a father and daughter living off the grid in the Pacific Northwest, will play at this year’s Munich International Film Festival (28 June-7 July) in the spotlight strand.
Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie star in the film, which shot in Oregon last year and premiered at Sundance before screening in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. Bleecker Street will distribute in the US on and Sony will launch in the UK on July 28.
How did you get involved in the project?
Two producers here in New York really liked the book [My Abandoment by Peter Rock] and passed it to me and my producing partner Anne Rosellini. We stuck to the first half pretty closely and we were looking to an alternative to the father dying in a grisly way.
What did you know about these characters who live off the grid?
[Foster’s character] figured out how he could be the best teacher to his daughter as the talons of digital society were engulfing everybody. He kept going to the margins. By the end of the film I was applauding him. It takes a huge amount of determination to do that.
Your films like to explore marginal communities. Does that echo your upbringing?
I grew up in the Washington DC suburbs. I’m always searching for somewhere that feels like a place. You feel as if you come from nowhere. On a good day filmmakers are visual anthropologists and on a bad day they’re voyeurs.
Tell us a little about newcomer Thomasin McKenzie
She comes from a very cool arts scene in New Zealand. Her parents are filmmakers and her mother is a beloved acting coach in New Zealand. She got sent the script and sent a wonderful tape. She did these extended tapings and even went down the road to get a rabbit. She had a lot of moxie. She wrote a journal… she learned knife skills.
What are you doing next?
I’m finishing off a documentary about a group of men in the New York area who are reeacclimatising to life after incarceration. And [i’m looking for] partners on a narratve project based on Barbra Ehrenreich’s 2001 [non-fiction] book Nickel And Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America, about lives of ordinary working Americans in the service economy.