So there were these elements and even more so, going back to Morrisa’s experience knowing that feeling, which is so real and authentic, that it’s taken four years after launching this journey for me to kind of feel that too. Watching it was like carrying Grandma with me. Before we lost her, my dad had asked her, “So, what’s it feel like having a granddaughter who’s a movie star?” and she said “Oh, it’s fantastic. I love movies.” 

So it feels like such a gift to be able, in this time, particularly being a solid, committed union actor, to be committed and love independent film. And that there’s a space that our union is making so that we can take this out on the road as it’s premiering. It’s not getting swept away because the studios are gatekeeping. Studios that never would have greenlit this kind of story because, you know, who goes on a road trip after losing their grandma?

I feel all of the people that we’ve lost are part of this unknown collective now that can shape and guide and direct the tide in our favor a little bit. It was also a really profound thing that we started and ended making this film in between the pandemic and COVID happening. So suddenly, there’s societal collective grief that people can understand a little bit more. 

That’s one thing that I actually really love about the film too. That it doesn’t surprise me, it just delights me, that it moves people who have touched the fire of that kind of loss. That it’s moving and meaningful to them, without manipulating or prying into their trauma too much. It’s rare when a film doesn’t sensationalize anything. It just allows the space to kind of collectively breathe and feel uplifted.

MM: We were fortunate enough to share the film earlier this week in Spearfish, South Dakota, where we met first, which was a great place to start this film. It sold out in multiple theaters that night to all these people in South Dakota. All these people who aren’t used to watching an art film because they’re mostly watching what’s in the multiplex or streaming. It was so great to see people really relate deeply to this film. 

These are universal stories that people do relate to, no matter where you’re from, or who you are. People actually do want to see these stories. It’s just that they don’t even know they want to see them because they are not accessible. They’re not shown to them.

LG: In small-town America, you have to know somebody who loves film or recommends things to you, or you have to be really driven to it. You don’t see it on the marquee of your local art house theater while you’re walking to get your coffee in the morning.

MM: So I hope seeing this type of story inspires them.

“The Unknown Country” is now playing in theaters. 

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