Benjamin Dickinson’s dark sci-fi comedy took the top prize at the US In Progress independent showcase in Paris on Wednesday (11).
The event, hosted by the Champs-Elysées Film Festival, aims to connect upcoming films from the US independent scene with distributors and sales agents in Europe.
It is Dickinson’s second feature film after his debut First Winter, about a group of Brooklynite yoga students attending a retreat in an old house in upstate New York, which premiered in Tribeca.
In Creative Control, Dickinson has set the tale in the heart of Brooklyn’s creative community. The director stars as an ambitious young ad executive working on a campaign for a new generation of augmented reality glasses.
He loses his own hold on reality after he creates a life-like avatar of his fashion photographer best-friend’s girlfriend, played by up and coming actress Alexia Rasmussen (pictured). The youthful ensemble cast also features Nora Zehetner and Dan Gill.
Shot in black-and-white against the backdrop of Brooklyn, the film is a darkly humorous take on the impact of technology on modern society. The work-in-progress’ first industry screening, it received a warm response on Wednesday.
It was produced by Mark De Pace of Ghost Robot, who also collaborated with Dickinson on his first feature. De Pace’s other credits include Joey Garland’s feature A Love Letter For You.
The other three films screening at the showcase comprised Arthur Allen’s endearing LGBT romantic comedy Winning Dad, Hossein Keshavarz’s illegal immigrant drama and Matthew Lessner’s poetic experimental work Automatic At Sea.
The Seattle-set Missing Dad was directed by and stars Allen as Rusty, the loveable bartender boyfriend of a talented chef. The latter organises a camping trip for Rusty and his homophobic father, in the belief the pair will get on like a house on fire. It has near catastrophic consequences for their relationship.
Allen said the film was born out of Seattle’s film-making community. “We financed, produced and shot it in Seattle,” said Allen, adding part of the budget had been raised through Kickstarter.
Lessner’s Automatic At Sea revolves around a young Swedish traveller who is invited to a private family island by a privileged New Englander. The pair quickly discover they have very little on common. Eve is befriended by a mysterious woman called Grace – but does she really exist or is she a figment of Eve’s imagination? It is Lessner’s second film after The Woods, which premiered in Sundance in 2011.
Keshavarz’s Eugenia And John follows the plight of a longtime illegal immigrant in the US whose life unravels when her sister is lined up for deportation after she is arrested over a routine traffic fine.
US In Progress is a joint initiative between the American Film Festival in Wroclow, Poland, the Champs-Elysées Film Festival and Adeline Monzier’s Black Rabbit Film.
This is the third year the Champs Elysées Film Festival has hosted the US In Progress event. Previous winners comprise Tommy Olivier’s crack cocaine drama 1982, which went on to premiere in Toronto, and A Teacher by Hannah Fidell, which premiered at Sundance and was subsequently picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories for the US.
The winner receives help with post-production costs, free French subtitling, a deal with broadcaster Ciné+ and a free pass to Cannes Producers Network next year.
For the first time this year, the Montreal-based cultural centre the Phi Center will also give the winner a special screening.