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September 29

Ballast by Lance Hammer

Acclaimed at major festivals from Sundance to Berlin, Ballast marks a high point of contemporary American independent cinema. Lance Hammer's remarkably accomplished debut feature has drawn frequent comparison to David Gordon Green’s George Washington, another strong first film made by a young white filmmaker working with a primarily African-American cast. Hammer, who considered careers in architecture and art direction before turning to directing, has proven himself a real maverick, refusing the formulaic eccentricities that mar so much of recent "indie" cinema to create a beautifully restrained yet authentically heartfelt film. Hammer has also turned away from conventional approaches to distribution, backing out of a deal with a major distributor to instead take control of the film's release with a group of friends and colleagues.

Special thanks to Robb Moss.

Special Event Tickets $10
Monday September 29 at 7pm


Directed by Lance Hammer, Appearing in Person
With Micheal J. Smith Sr., JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs
US 2008, 35mm, color, 96 min.

Ballast opens in the quiet aftermath of a suicide that brings together the three primary survivors of the deceased—his brother, young son and the boy's mother—all long estranged from the victim and each other, and each trying to find a sense of direction. Hammer turns away from plot-driven melodrama, distilling the story to a bare minimum and focusing intensely on the characters themselves and the subtle transformations that take place within the fascinating moral and emotional triangle that is formed between them. Shot on film, Ballast adopts many of the major strategies used by the more interesting recent American independent directors: handheld camera, naturalistic dialogue delivered by unknown or unprofessional actors, and an elliptical editing and narrative strategy. Typical of the film’s upending of convention is its original and deeply effective use of its strikingly remote rural Mississippi setting, a debilitated landscape of wintry, fallow fields and urban grit rarely seen on the big screen.

 Listen to this evening's introduction, discussion and Q&A.

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