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Interview: Christopher Abbott & Gitte Witt (The Sleepwalker)

In The Sleepwalker (Sundance Selects / limited release 11.21), filmmaker Mona Fastvold sequesters her quartet of players in mostly volatile sibling, lover and fighter pairings. Architecturally speaking, the setting is a particular one. An under repair, posh yet isolated million plus dollar refuge in the woods acts as a sort of centrifuge system for dysfunctionality. Archetypally speaking, we find the protective nurture in the sisterly bound, romantically fused couples and a testosterone-filled joust between classes in this over-reaching air/atmosphere of unconscious and subconscious behaviours.

Christopher Abbott (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Carlos Puga’s All That I Am (aka “Burma”), Josh Mond’s short film, 1009) had arrived at Sundance having just completed filming on Mond’s feature debut, James White (we briefly discuss this at the tail-end of the interview) plays Andrew, the sort of blue collar hammer and nail kind of New Englander with a pit-bull like short fuse, while Gitte Witt plays girlfriend Kaia, the film’s protagonist, distraught future aunt but at ease as the conductor leader in this cesspool symphony.

We had a brief chat about how their psychological traits were enhanced via choice in setting, garb and damaged material items, discussed the matriarchal healer character and their level-headed Norwegian traits and touched upon the construction of the film’s dynamically composed toggle-like dinner table sequence. Tomorrow: we speak to director/co-writer Mona Fastvold and co-writer/actor Brady Corbet.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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