Hate Crime (2012, 1hr 13 mins)
This pixie and her sisters were raised by a mother who was suspicious of everyone. Overprotective of her three girls, she prepared for kidnappings, molestation, or death, all at the hands of people who didn’t like the colour of our skin. As a result, We expected the worst at an early age. We were the”other”, visible targets of prejudice and intolerance. Thankfully, the worst we got was name calling and some schoolyard bullying. In James Cullen Bressack’s latest film, Hate Crime, we see this type of intolerance, up close and personal, like a searing hot microscope held to your eye. We join a family of five in the midst of their youngest son’s birthday dinner, which is being video taped by their dutiful dad. They are Jewish, which shouldn’t matter, but unfortunately it is the key reason for why they are targeted in a home invasion that shatters their celebration. The intruders? 3 maniacal Neo Nazi freaks who unleash a torrent of cruelty, brutality and horror upon this unsuspecting family, documenting it with the family camcorder.
This “found footage” film has been described as shocking, disturbing, horrifying, alarming and sickening, and it is all of the above. While I was watching it, I wondered when it would end, and how it would end; wishing mercy on the family as they watched each other get murdered, defiled and humiliated in unspeakable ways. The portrayals of the tormented family members were raw and real, and the Neo Nazi assailants were terrifying with their brute force. When the film was over, it stayed with me for a few days. I couldn’t forget the brutality and the message Hate Crime sent like a knock-out punch. I was fascinated by the person behind the film, and was lucky enough to contact director and writer Cullen Bressack (who is also the mind behind My Pure Joy) via email so he could answer a few questions about the film:
Was there a particular event that motivated you to make Hate Crime?
The concept of Hate Crime came about in several different ways. I had always wanted to make a home invasion film because I had honestly feared home invasions my entire life, ever since I was a wee little lad. But what really brought on the idea for the Neo Nazi aspect of the film was a scary chance encounter in Texas. My business partner and I were at a bar and were harassed by skinheads and asked to leave. We, being Jewish, started to feel really hurt by this kind of blind hatred and we looked into it. Sure enough there are many, many Hate Crimes in the US per year and an alarming amount of them are against Jewish people and are violent. I knew Hate Crime had to be made.
What would you like viewers to take away from the film?
I would like viewers to take away from this viewing experience not only just a film but a message as well. The amount of Hate that permeates our society is becoming overwhelming. It’s time not to judge others and just accept one another. I know it’s a strange thing to say about a film like this but it is how I intend the film to be received. When we are fueled by blind hate and violence, no one wins. This film is an experience but it is also a journey, and I hope you decide to take this journey with me.
Your cast really went for it. I especially felt for Maggie Wagner (who played Melissa, the mother). How did they prepare for such raw performances? Anyone crawl under a rock for a month to recover?
I worked extensively with every single one of my actors for hours on end, discussing character and really building everything that was off the page, not just what was on the page. Everybody has their own process, but I feel that film is a living breathing medium and the way I look at building a character with an actor is we dig deep into who they are both on and off the page. We take my perceptions of the character and the actors perceptions of the character and we imagine this invisible wall. We both throw our perceptions at the wall, aka have a discussion, and whatever sticks for both of us ends up making the most sense for the character. Its how I like to have my actors prepare and how to truly root a character in reality. I am very hands on with my actors and I think they appreciate it. I know everyone was happy to shed their characters when it was time to stop filming.
Are there any plans to put this film out for a wider audience, or have you gotten great reception via the internet(which is infinitely vast itself)?
The film will be released on DVD in the USA in august through UNEARTHED FILMS and a BLURAY later on after that. I wanted to do this VOD (video on demand) thing because there are so many people in other countries that want to see it that I fear might not end up with the opportunity to see it for a very long time. As you know the BAN laws are a lot more strict in foreign countries then they are over here in the USA.
Can you let us know what’s in store for the future? Should we get our crash helmets prepped?
The next film I directed/wrote that is coming out is called TO JENNIFER and it is something VERY different then what I am use to. I think everyone will really like it. Essentially its a buddy comedy but it will please any fans of HATE CRIME guaranteed. Also keep an eye out for Pernicious, which is a bigger film I am shooting this summer in Thailand!
A big thank you to James Cullen Bressack for taking the time out to answer some questions for Rosemary’s Pixie, and much success in the future!
In less Westernized places on this planet, men, women and children experience violence on a daily basis because of their religion, race, or sexual orientation. Unfortunately here in North America, people are still subject to the same injustices. Even though his film was hard to watch at times, I applaud this indie director for approaching the subject matter in the same way violence is doled out. Hate Crime is in your face, unapologetic and drops a much-needed reality check in our laps. People, we just need to get along!
Hate Crime can be currently rented online for a limited time at www.pyskikjunkypictures.com for $6.66. If you have a delicate constitution, you have been warned. Not for the faint of heart!