|ABOUT A DONKEY|
|East Coast Premiere|
|Cast: ||Christina Shea-Wright, Alexandra Clayton, Katherine Wessling, Peter Jensen, Ben Kaufman, Ricardo Manigat, Elisha Mudly, Sarah Haruko, Ellen Graff|
|Crew: ||Producers: Christina Raia, Kelsey Rauber - Screenwriters: Kelsey Rauber |
About a Donkey follows the Owens family: Ann & Tim, their 3 adult children, Cecilia, Burgh, and Annie (and her husband Paul), and matriarch Farrah. When Tim brings home a donkey in a mixture of wanting to rescue both it and himself, all of the characters' lives are shaken up and pushed forward. Ann, who has been struggling with depression, doesn't quite know how to navigate her marriage and sudden neighborhood interest with the new animal in her life. Cecilia, also struggling with identity issues due to a recent unemployment, passes the time by helping her grandma Farrah with experimental inventions, which Farrah only enjoys because it gives her bragging rights with the other seniors at her nursing home. To Cecilia's delight, there's a new independent living assistant who makes hanging out with her grandma far more intriguing. Meanwhile, Burgh struggles with telling his family about an old acquaintance back in his life, and a very pregnant Annie just tries to keep the peace between all members of the family.
Christina Raia is a New York City based Writer/Director, the Founder of CongestedCat Productions LLC & a Crowdfunding Specialist at Seed&Spark. She won Best Director for her feature film, SUMMIT, at the Rhode Island International Film Festival's Vortex Fest, and the film won Best Horror Film at the Manhattan Film Festival. It was released on VOD in 2016. She co-created, directed and produced the comedic web series Kelsey, which premiered on blip.tv in September 2013 to rave reviews and consistent press coverage, including as a Critic's Pick and named one of the 19 Best Comedy Web Series of 2013 by Indiewire.com. It has over a quarter million hits online. Her other credits as Director, Producer and Writer include multiple narrative short films that have made official selection at film festivals across the country. In addition to Indiewire, her work and approach as a filmmaker have been covered by the Examiner, AfterEllen and BuzzFeed. She also turned her desire to foster collaboration and engagement in the local film community into IndieWorks, a monthly film screening series showcasing and supporting the work of other independent filmmakers in New York.
Alumni Website Filmography
The screenplay for About a Donkey was originally written after a visit with screenwriter Kelsey Rauberís dad resulted in him casually mentioning that he would like to own a donkey.
That passing comment sparked the quirky and heartfelt idea that led to the film. The screenplay won the Grand Prize in the Comedy Division of the 2012 New York Screenplay Contest and was a Semi-Finalist of the 2013 LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival. The 2016 Blue Cat Screenplay Contest shared these comments about the final draft, "The themes of growing older, mid-life depression, and generally figuring out one's adult life were poignant and relatable. The idea of using a donkey bought on a whim is a novel, whimsical and interesting one, and adds to the dark comedic tone of the piece. The concept is unique and speaks to the various struggles of finding one's identity and purpose." I was attracted to the screenplay due to how it effortlessly tackled weighty issues through a comedic lens filled with characters that feel real and show growth as the story progresses. As I got in involved, I became excited by the prospect of getting to enhance more of the dramatic subtext under the story and establish an inclusive world that surrounds this family.
About a Donkey at its core is about compassion and growing towards acceptance. I hope this ensemble piece will bring audiences in and cause them to identify with characters who they may not otherwise. The film was largely shot with a look that balances reality and an inviting-warmth. Our mission is to show that love is love, people's lives and desires are relevant no matter their age, and struggling with depression is acceptable and normal. And sometimes just taking an action, even one as random as buying a donkey, is exactly what's needed to get your life going again.
We did not have any industry-known actors attached to our film, but did feature a cast of diverse and talented up-and-comers who are actively working in the independent film scene. (Christina Shea-Wright, our sort-of lead, had a recurring role on Boardwalk Empire and has a guest spot on Jessica Jones in season 2, for instance.) Over half of our crew and two-thirds of our cast is made up of women. Over one-third of our cast & crew includes people of color; notably I, the director, am an ethnic minority. And one-third of our cast & crew includes LGBTQ identifying individuals; notably our writer is a lesbian. Itís important to us that people who truly reflect the diversity of this country be represented onscreen, and that those who identify in real life as that representation have a voice and agency in their portrayal. Through our storytelling and filmmaking, we aim to contribute to a more equitable, varied and nuanced portrayal of those often excluded or erased.