One of the most talked-about films of the Tribeca festival this year, Descent is a no-holds-barred revenge fantasy about a woman who is viciously raped, has her life thrown off the tracks and eventually comes to realize that the only way things will ever make sense again is if she tries to right that wrong. It's not a film that Pauline Kael would look kindly on, since it very much espouses a kind of eye-for-eye, 'let's settle this thing out of court' kind of adjudication. Since seeing the film last week, I've talked to people who both agree with the main character and the decisions she ultimately makes and those who are horrified by it -- you'll have to see it yourself to decide. The star of the film, Rosario Dawson, is at the festival this year and turned up for a press conference to talk about the film, along with director and co-writer Talia Lugacy, co-writer Brian Priest and co-star Chad Faust. Here is a sampling of some of the questions and answers from the talk:
Moderator: Talk about how you guys put this film together.
Brian: Well, the project, Talia and Rosario were working on for a bunch of years together as a vehicle for Talia to direct and for Rosario to star in -- Talia wrote it with her cousin Brian. It was brought to me by Rosario's mom, Isabelle. I read the script and met with Talia and had a long discussion about the project and how she saw it. From there, putting it together was a quick process -- tough on every end, for everybody, but a quick process -- we're very excited by the way it turned out.
Moderator: Rosario, how did you and Talia meet?
Rosario: Talia and I met at Lee Strasberg when I was 16 years old and she was 15 years old. We had been doing short films all throughout her NYU tenure, and that was pretty much all her Sight and Sound films. With the money from Pluto Nash, I funded and produced her thesis film at NYU, a 20-minute short we did on 35-millimeter, and we did another short film, actually, for Glamour Magazine. They had asked me to direct, and I asked if she could write and direct it, which was really great, and just trying to always establish us as a bonafied team. We've been talking about it for almost 12 years now, that she was going to write and direct and I was going to act and produce. We've been doing it behind the scenes for a long time, and this was our first feature that we were able to get off the ground. It took us a couple of years, until we found Morris, and then it was very quick at that point, but there was definitely a lot of peddling the script around for quite a few years, there. We had to find the right collaborators to help us keep the integrity, which was difficult.
Moderator: Where did the idea come from?
Talia: We all love movies, the three of us, Brian, Rosario and myself. The movies that we love kind of come from -- I personally love movies from the 60s and 70s -- I love movies that don't tell you how to feel and allow you to experience the film with the character, and it was very important to us to create a story where you could watch characters change over the course of it, and endure situations that are not easy to explain and watch them evolve ... and let the ending speak for itself. These are all things we set out to do and did not compromise on the script.