2015 Heartland Film Festival Official Selection, Documentary Short Elder is about a Mormon missionary who finds his world turned upside down when he falls in love with a handsome Italian Communist in 1974. With original 8mm film and fierce storytelling, Tom Clark recounts a love story set against the backdrop of coastal Italy wrought with faith, identity, cigarettes, and Thorazine.
We spoke with Director/Writer/Producer Genéa Gaudet about her film:
HF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?
GG: Elder is a true-life love affair between a Mormon missionary and an Italian Communist man in the 1970s. It came to be a film when one of the producers heard Tom Clark – the subject – telling the story to a captivated audience at a dinner party.
HF: What was your role in the production?
GG: I am the director, but am also a producer and writer/editor.
HF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?
GG: I had a film in Heartland last year that I produced and edited called JesusTown, USA about the longest running Easter pageant in the U.S. that takes place in the Wichita foothills every year.
HF: This year’s tagline is “Movies That Stay with You” – what lasting effect will your film have on moviegoers?
GG: The love story in Elder is beautiful and is a reminder of how powerful first love can be. For that reason, it seems to linger in people’s memories.
HF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker?
GG: Watching the early work of David Lynch inspired me to become a filmmaker.
HF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now, but you weren’t told when you started your career?
GG: That it’s extremely hard. That you often wonder if you should keep at it.
HF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?
GG: Eraserhead. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Man With a Movie Camera. This year: Tangerine. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The Babadook.
HF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? What do you like the most about the festival experience?
GG: This is Elder‘s 12th film festival. I haven’t been able to go to many but I absolutely love hearing LGBT people say the film moved them and really resonated with their experience.
HF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?
GG: I’m unfortunately not attending. 🙁 So I’d love a festival goer ask why more festivals don’t bring in the shorts filmmakers!!
See Elder in Shorts Program 4: All You Need is Love