Ballast Director: Lance Hammer

The winner of a Special Jury Prize at the Deauville Film Festival and Best Director and Best Cinematography honors at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, BALLAST has been hailed as one of the most impressive indie films of the year and a career booster for its writer/director Lance Hammer. The film recently was nominated for 4 Gotham Independent Film Awards, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Ensemble Performance.

Set in the Mississippi Delta region, one of the poorest areas of the country, this emotional drama tells the story of Lawrence, a middle-aged black man who is recovering from a suicide attempt after his twin brother has died of a drug overdose. The emotional terrain becomes even more heated when his nephew visits him and demands money from at gunpoint… money which belonged to the suicidal brother. The desperate emotional conditions of the uncle and nephew, as well as the single mother who tries to protect her troubled son, are reinforced by their poverty, lack of education and uncertainty about the future. While this may sound impossibly downbeat, there is a resurrection that takes place in this emotional story, as the despondent uncle, his bitter sister-in-law and the violence-prone nephew find a sense of redemption and a renewed feeling for family.

The naturalistic acting, which reminds one of work done by similar non-professionals in the films by the Belgian Dardennes Brothers, is stunning, in roles that build from meek silence to unexpended strength. This is humanistic drama of the highest order and a wonderfully hopeful tale of forgiveness and renewal.

Sandy Mandelberger

Festivals and awards: Sundance (Cinematography Award, Directing Award), Berlin (in competition), Karlovy Vary, Moscow, London, Vienna
Links: Trailer

Programme: BMW Group Presents

Country: USA
Year: 2008
Length: 96
Language: English
Producer: Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh
Screenplay: Lance Hammer
Director: Lance Hammer
Cinematography: Lol Crawley
Music: Lance Hammer
Editor: Lance Hammer

Cast: Micheal J. Smith, Sr., JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail, Ventress Bonner

Producer: Alluvial Film Company

Lance Hammer

Lance Hammer (b. 1967, Ventura, California, USA) graduated in architecture from the University of Southern California and later worked in the art departmentsof Hollywood studios where he was involved in the Coen brothers' "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001) among others. In 2004 he participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus where he presented his project "The Imperfect Cell". BALLAST is his feature screenwriting and directorial debut. Hammer also served as editor and producer for the film.

Ballast (2008)

Wednesday, 03. December 22:00
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Saturday, 06. December 15:30
Kumu auditoorium
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