October 2013

"I Used to Be Darker"

by Matt Porterfield; opens January 9, 2014

Stills from I Used to Be Darker

Taryn has made her way from Northern Ireland to the United States – for love, which proves to be fleeting. She seeks refuge with relatives in Baltimore, but Aunt Kim and Uncle Bill are busy trying to end their marriage. It’s supposed to go smoothly and with dignity, because their daughter Abby has announced that she’ll be coming home to visit between semesters – to a home that no longer exists. Every beginning marks an end, and vice versa. The same is true for relationships. "I used to be darker, then I got lighter…" – song lyrics that hover over the story. Director Matt Porterfield lets profound themes emerge like melodies: a stroll through the music genres and the inner life of the characters, with a gentle camera that is insistent yet not intrusive. Dramatic turning points occur almost as an afterthought and unfold all the more intensively as a result. Redemption and release, loss and change, building things up and breaking them down – everything is in a state of flux, even the water in their private swimming pool, framed just as impressively as in HAMILTON, Porterfield’s debut film. I USED TO BE DARKER is a film about being able to let go. "And then I got lighter …" (Ansgar Vogt)

Watch the trailer

Kim Taylor European Tour 2014 presented by CashGirls Berlin
We are very happy to have Kim Taylor, Singer-Spongwriter, playing the Aunt Kim, over for some concerts.

All screenings (as of 30.12.2013)

January 7., 8.15pm, Preview @ Unknown Pleasures Festival @Babylon Mitte, Berlin - Special: "Q&A with songs" with Kim Taylor

from January 9
fsk - Kino am Oranienplatz, Berlin
Special: January 9 at 8pm "Q&A with songs" with Kim Taylor
Thalia Cinema, Dresden
Filmhauskino, Köln
Kino Koki, Lübeck
Apollo, Aachen
Galerie Cinema
, Essen

January 10.–14. Kinemathek Karlsruhe

from January 16.
Mal seh'n Kino, Frankfurt
Cineding, Leipzig

from January 23
3001, Hamburg
Filmhaus, Nürnberg
Preview: January 18, 7pm screening followed by a concert with Kim Taylor at 9pm, Zentralcafe

from February 6
Kino im Künstlerhaus, Hannover
Werkstattkino, München
Cinema, Münster
, Halle
Lichtblick, Berlin

13.-19.02.: Filmhaus, Saarbrücken

18.-23.02.: Cinématèque, Leipzig

21.-26.02.: Brotfabrik, Berlin

27.02.-12.03: Kino Xenix, Zürich

A beginning as much as an ending
Matt Porterfield on his film

Amy Belk, my co-writer, and I wanted to tell an honest story about divorce, each of us having gone through it ourselves, and me twice, if you count my parents. We wanted to honour our experience, what we learned about how complex and full of life even the dying of a marriage is, how it is a beginning as much as it is an ending, for the couple concerned, and also for the people whose lives they touch. And, as important as it was for us to tell this story honestly, it was equally important that the story not be narrow in scope. What really amazes us about relationships is how everything is happening all at once. The community – the family – changes when two people separate, but it does not stop, even for a second, having troubles and tri- umphs of its own.

My third film, I USED TO BE DARKER, is firmly grounded in narrative tradition while pushing outward and turning inward in surprising and formally adventurous ways. Taking a cue from eighteenth century modes of melodrama, it’s full of big emo- tions, broad gestures and song. But like the best cinematic realism, it also finds time for the quotidian, posing questions of craft, using formal devices that shatter the illusion of reality, while honouring the potential for naturalism inherent in working with a non-professional cast and real environments.

I USED TO BE DARKER is my most personal film to date, but it’s also my most collaborative. I’m happy to be working again with Jeremy Saulnier, who shot my first two films, and Marc Vives, who cut "Putty Hill". I wrote the screenplay, word for word, with Amy Belk – the world of this film is as much hers as mine. Danny Meltzer and Gene Park collaborated on the sound design. Danny’s experience as a field recordist brought real fidelity to the production track, resulting in rich ambience and flawless recordings of the live music our actors perform, while Gene brought an impeccable ear and the finest attention to detail. Our production designer, Bart Mangram, created the spaces our characters occupy, which tell us as much about their lives as the words they speak and the songs they sing. The cumulative energy projected by all the creative people who collaborated on I USED TO BE DARKER results in an image of the world that transmits as precise, authentic and unique.

It’s about family
The thing about I USED TO BE DARKER that I’m most excited to share with audiences is the remarkable cast. Every time I watch it, I’m moved by what they bring to the screen. I see real people I love, not characters from the collective imagi- nation. Though more subtly fused than in "Putty Hill", the per formances in I USED TO BE DARKER rely just as much on the real lives of the actors: they drew on their own experiences, their strengths, weaknesses, intelligence and intuition, and found ways to make the interior lives of their characters come to life through a precise combination of words, gestures, and emo-tions. This is the first time any of the principal cast has ap-peared in a film, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Music plays a very important role in I USED TO BE DARKER. Not only do two of the lead actors, Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham, sing original songs on screen, we also brought in a few of our fa- vourite artists from Baltimore to add to the soundtrack: Dope Body, Dustin Wong, Jana Hunter, The Entrance Band. I’ve al-ways been interested in the idea of limiting the use of non-diagetic music in my films. I USED TO BE DARKER is the first in which every music cue has an onscreen source. If you listen closely, you’ll even hear a song by Bill Callahan, 'Jim Cain', off his album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle. That album got Amy and me through some hard times. The line goes, 'I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again / Something too big to be seen was passing over and over me.' At its core, this is a story about relationships: people taking care of each other and letting each other go, looking for love and connection where they’ve found it before or where they might find it next. It’s about family: what pushes us away from our own, what draws us back, how we negotiate new terms of engagement as we carve our own space in the world. And it’s a story about home, based on the belief that you can too go home again, but it always involves building something new.

Matt Porterfield was born in Baltimore, Maryland on 6 October 1977. He studied film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2006, he made his first feature film, Hamilton. Along with working as a director and screenwriter, Porterfield also teaches at the Film and Media Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Films 2006: "Hamilton" (67 min.). 2010: "Putty Hill" (89 min., Forum 2010). 2013: I USED TO BE DARKER (Forum 2013).

Country/Year: USA 2013. Format: DCP, BluRay. Running time: 90 minutes. Language: Englisch with German subtitlesCast: Deragh Campbell (Taryn), Hannah Gross (Abby), Ned Oldham (Bill), Kim Taylor (Kim), Nick Petr (Nick), Geoff Grace (Geoff). Production Company: Hamilton Film Group, Baltimore; Steady Orbits, New York; Nomadic Independence Pictures, Nashville. Director: Matt Porterfield. Screenplay: Amy Belk, Matt Porterfield. Camera: Jeremy Saulnier. Costume designer: Lane Harlan. Editor: Marc Vives. Producers: Eric Bannat, Steve Holmgren, Ryan Zacarias.