|CROSSING THE RIVER|
|Cast: ||Tyler Williams, Landon Williams, Desiree Ross, Bruce Smolanoff, Michelle Mills, Ann Lukens, Vanzell Haire, Patricia Garvin, Jane Brutto, Casey Gibson, Pamela Kay Noble Brown, Leslie Vicary, Cecil Owens, Cyril Samonte|
|Crew: ||Producer: Tammy Arnstein
- Screenplay: Emilie McDonald
- Cinematography: Matthew Woolf
- Editing: Matt Sarno
- Music: David Engle
- Additional music: Erin Fisher, Channing Lee & Quinn Matthews|
Inspired by a true story, "Crossing the River" is about a young white boy who is influenced to commit a hate crime against a biracial girl who is his friend. The film explores the points of view of both the victim and perpetrators, and seeks to reveal how someone can be influenced to do something morally unspeakable.
Emilie McDonald is an NYC-based filmmaker, writer and actor who graduated from Vassar with a BA in film and drama. In 2012 she wrote, directed and produced a narrative short film, CROSSING THE RIVER, inspired by a true story of a modern-day hate crime (SAG Foundation's Short Film Showcase, Dances With Films, SAFILM, WAMMFest, Best Ensemble Cast Award at NYC Downtown Short Film Festival, Twin Rivers Media Festival, Interrobang Film Festival, NewFilmmakers & Manlleu Film Festival in Spain). She wrote and directed OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES in 2010 (Big Apple Film Festival, NewFilmmakers, Blue Sky Film Festival & Flicks in the Garden) and was co-writer and producer of the short MY ELENA in 2008. She is currently in development on a feature film based on the true story of a doctor she knew as a child, a Bronx- born Jewish doctor who relocated to rural South Carolina in the 1950's (semifinalist Tribeca All Access 2010; semifinalist Creative Capital 2011). Emilie was Director of Development of Feature Films at Milk & Honey Films (L.A.), where she worked on developing Leonard Cohen's BEAUTIFUL LOSERS into a feature, and Creative Director at Filmmakers Alliance (L.A.), an independent filmmakers collective.
CROSSING THE RIVER is a narrative short film about a modern-day hate crime. White teenage brothers Grant and Shawn, estranged from their mother, find the connection they are seeking with a racist older man. Michaela, an innocent 13 year old from a mixed-race family, is new in town. After tensions in the boys' lives escalate, a cross is burned on Michaela's lawn. The film explores the points of view of both the victim and perpetrators, and seeks to reveal how someone can be influenced to do something morally unspeakable.
In 2010, I met my friend Martha's grandsons Tyler and Landon in South Carolina, and immediately felt that they would be compelling onscreen. A short time later, I received an article from a friend of my family's who runs a civil rights watch group. The article was about teenagers who were accused of burning a cross on a family's lawn, and how the family was affected, especially their 13 year old daughter. I was very moved by the story, and especially by how it was apparent that the girl truly believed that people were good and wanted to continue to believe it despite her experience. When I later read that the two boys turned to the family in court and apologized, it gave me hope. The seed of an idea for a powerful short film quickly developed.
We shot CROSSING THE RIVER on location in Camden, South Carolina March 15-18, 2012 on the Arri Alexa. We had an incredible cast and crew working dedicatedly on the project, each bringing a high level of professionalism. The goal was to capture improvisational moments with the young actors, while at the same time maintaining a visual quality that fully captured the beauty and tension of the South Carolina landscape.