Writer/director/editor Mark Jackson was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2011,” following his directorial debut, Without, which was featured in MiamiFF 29’s America the Beautiful program. The award-winning drama is set on an isolated house on a remote Pacific Northwest island, where 19-year-old Josyln (Joslyn Jensen) becomes the caretaker of an old man who is totally dependent on special care. Faced with solitude, and frustrated with no TV, Internet access or cellphone signal, the soft-spoken Joslyn experiences an unraveling of sexuality, guilt and loss. “As with Roman Polanski’s 1965 Repulsion, one obvious influence, to leave us wondering to what extent Joslyn might be in actual physical danger, and to what extent she’s the principle source of that danger — both to herself and to others. She’s certainly far from the model caretaker,” said The Hollywood Reporter’s Neil Young.
Jackson was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, graduated with a degree in literature from the University of California, and pursued graduate studies in cinematography at Rome’s Cinecittá studios. In his second film, War Story, featured in MiamiFF 31’s America the Beautiful program this past March—Jackson takes us deep into the troubled world of another female protagonist; this time a war photographer named Lee (Catherine Keener) traumatized after a brutalizing experience in Libya, where she was taken hostage and nearly killed, and witnesses the murder of her best friend just because she irritated the guards.
When we first meet Lee in War Story, she has arrived at a small hotel in Sicily, not far from former lover & mentor (Ben Kingsley), and she proves to be a less than perfect guest. A chain-smoking restless sleeper, with a tough cynical veneer, she badgers the staff, disregards the rules of the pension, and never answers the constantly ringing telephone in her room. Her behavior and the reasons for it remain a mystery until she meets a young Tunisian migrant in need of help, and another side of her character begins to reveal itself. Is her offer of assistance an altruistic and generous one, or is there something in her recent past that requires redemption? War Story makes its Miami commercial debut at MDC’s Tower Theater on Friday, August 22nd. — Tatyana Chiocchetti