Darci Picoult is the screenwriter for the Sundance feature, Mother of George which is playing in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at this year's fest.
Here's the synopsis:
At long last, handsome Ayodele Balogun, owner of a small Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn, will wed his beautiful fiancée, Adenike, and they will start a new life together in the United States. Their traditional Yoruba wedding culminates in a ceremony where Adenike is named for her yet-to-be-conceived son, George. But as the months pass without pregnancy, Ma George is torn between her Yoruba culture and her new life in America as she faces uncomfortable and unfamiliar choices in her struggle to save her marriage.
George is Picoult's first screenplay but she's no stranger to writing. She is an award-winning playwright and teaches acting at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. The journey on George has been ongoing since it was part of the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors lab in 2005. In an interview with No Film School, Picoult talks about the process.
I spent years researching and meeting women and men from Africa who lived in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, and they became my way into the story. I created a family based on these interviews as well as my imagination.
I connected so deeply to the story that once I had spoken to a number of people and once I started to write this, I felt that I understood something in this woman's heart. The challenging aspect was to really flesh this out with the particular world where the story is set, which is in Brooklyn, but it definitely exposes a Nigerian family. I want to make sure any time I write that it's authentic.
It's evident Picoult is passionate about authenticity, not only in her own work but also from other storytellers and filmmakers. As our guest blogger, she talks about a film from our library that she completely connected to, that is authentic and original and inspires her writing today.
When asked which Miramax films have inspired me as a writer, I thought of Dirty Pretty Things, Life is Beautiful, Chocolat, Run Lola Run, The English Patient; each of them daring and beautiful stories. One film, however, stands alone in its raw depiction of a family in conflict: Todd Field's In The Bedroom, written by Field and Rob Festinger.
Watch the trailer for In the Bedroom.
These artists brought me deep into a marriage by exposing the intimate details of a couple struggling to cope with their son's murder. This couple--brilliantly portrayed by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson--were revealed layer by layer. There was no artifice or decoration but a fearless articulation of their inner torment. The dialogue was understated and sparse, what wasn't said disclosed as much as what was spoken. A silent stare, a gesture, a carefully chosen word or eruption divulged the history of their marriage; how they blamed themselves and each other, what could have been done to avoid this tragedy, what needed to be done to move forward. At moments, I felt as if I were a peeping Tom, seeing something so private and intimate, that I had no right to see. But of course that is what pulled me in. I was not merely an observer but an active participant in their lives. What they did or didn't do angered and moved me, and transported me into their world. The ability to capture this connection is what I aspire to do as writer, and fed my work in .
The Sundance Film Festival runs January 17-27 in Park City, Utah.
Thanks to our Guest Blogger, Darci Picoult. Next up: Meet Terel Gibson, editor of the feature film, Toy's House.