A few days ago, I happened to walk past a small school bus in Manhattan. It was parked on a quiet, shady street, in front of a brick-built public school. On its back window, a small sign declared “THIS BUS HAS BEEN CHECKED FOR SLEEPING CHILDREN.” If you know anything about Lance Edmands‘ debut film, Bluebird, you’ll understand why this kind of sign (and the kind of practice it’s meant to encourage) is so necessary. You might also find yourself getting sniffly while looking at a random school bus in the middle of the day, but that’s something for later.
Edmands’ film is set in snowy and desolate northern Maine, where a small town is rocked by the revelation that one of its beloved school bus drivers didn’t check her bus after a morning run, and all the horrifying consequences that follow from that. The drama of the film relies on the interconnectedness of its many characters, along with some stunning scenery and big moral questions that drive its narrative ever onward. The film has a stellar cast to recommend it, including Amy Morton, Louise Krause, Emily Meade, Adam Driver, Margo Martindale and John Slattery. It’s a stunner of a debut, and now it needs your help to get distributed (presumably to a theater near you, where you can cry about it in the dark). Edmands has just launched a Kickstarter for the film, aimed at helping distribute a film that has already played to plenty of enthusiastic film festival crowds.
Bluebird debuted over a year ago at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, and I was lucky enough to catch it at its premiere screening. It’s the kind of film that sticks with you, and it remained hard to shake for the rest of the festival and long into the summer movie season.
At the time, I commented of the film: “The film is a slow burn, and Edmands isn’t afraid of letting Bluebird both wallow in and romanticize something that’s often hard to satisfyingly convey in cinema: just how boring real life can be. While tragedy and heartbreak are inevitable in Bluebird, Edmands takes his time with the film, introducing us to the minutiae of both Lesley and Marla’s lives, building in a subplot about the blossoming of Lesley’s teen daughter’s romantic life, showing us the logging lifestyle of Lesley’s husband (Slattery), before pulling the rug on everything and everyone. The film’s screenplay is punctuated by unfolding character insights that steadily build on our understanding of the film’s various characters without relying on clumsy exposition or expected surprises.”
The film is also bolstered by strong performances and, at the time of my review, I wrote “what’s most remarkable about Bluebird is its consistently solid performances, many of which frequently approach just flat-out greatness. Morton is the main draw here, and she turns in a performance that’s built on nuance and genuine emotion; it’s stripped down, solid work. Krause too does a marvelous job with a difficult role that could easily be played as the villain in a film that really doesn’t actually have one. The supporting members of the cast, including Meade, Martindale, and Slattery, also turn in hard work that they make look easy.” Morton’s work really is remarkable, the kind of part that could put the recognizable supporting actress on the map in a big way.
Of course, the film will make you cry (kind of a lot), but Edmands backs up that pain with a lot of beauty.
Need more? Check out the film’s trailer below, which does a nice job of piling on both the hard drama and the flinty charm of the story:
Edmands isn’t asking for crazy amount of dough — his goal is $35,000 — and the campaign has a number of contribution tiers (from $5 to $5,000) that all come with appropriate and interesting rewards. Want a postcard? They’ve got that. Want to visit the area where the film was made? They’ve got that, too. More into private screenings? They have those, too. It’s a very well put together campaign for a very well put together film. This one deserves your money in a big way.
Do you want to see this film? Enough to help fund it? Check out the Kickstarter page for more information (and maybe to give some cashola?).