A lost little boy. An old soul nursing old wounds. One life wanders into a nursing home and finds the other, a long-retired actress who enlists her fellow residents in a grand, kaleidoscopic symphony of sprawling Shakespearean performance, resulting in an explosive, life-affirming exchange of past and present joys … the lasting effect of which will undoubtedly, for both, prove as bright and constant as the Northern Star.
DIRECTOR’S ARTISTIC STATEMENT
Oscar Wilde once wrote that he regarded “theatre as the greatest of all art forms,” and went on to further explain that it was the most “immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” I believe this sentiment also holds true for the cinematic arts, and so I set out to accomplish it with my film, a tale of magical realism set in a New York City nursing home.
My story of Edna, a once highly skilled Shakespearean actress now abandoned by her family at a nursing home is a dark tale without any hope, until she meets a child, Mateo, who has mysteriously appeared in her room. It is only when Edna gives in to the child’s innocence that she is able to find herself again, out of the darkness, as the non-verbal child, clearly autistic, forms a bond with her, the elderly woman. In my film, I explore what it means to be human, complicated and messy, yet pure and powerful, with the ability to move mountains and forever change one another. With the use of classical music, opera, Shakespeare’s own text, costumes from the Elizabethan era, puppetry, and dramatic lighting I intend to create for the audience a visceral, transformative, thrilling sensory experience.
I’ve been committed to the art of storytelling since my early days as a child, and ever since my son Mateo was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), I’ve been compelled to make art that is deeply personal and accessible to a larger audience. My crew and I were part of a magical day on set, one that will forever stay with me as a filmmaker, an artist and a father. With the use of my screenplay and improvisation for the scenes involving Edna and Mateo, the two actors, one a theatre, film and television veteran and the other a first-timer, my son, a 7-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum, we witnessed the truth behind Wilde’s statement as the two souls formed a bond as if they were the only two souls left on earth. Mateo has very rarely, if ever, connected with another adult with as sharp a focus as he did that day with Lynn Cohen as Edna.
I hope that “As Constant As The Northern Star” creates a platform by which we can provide a cinematic journey towards discussing premature institutionalization of senior citizens and the growing rate of wandering among the autistic community. It is when we find a greater sense of acceptance of and tolerance for those normally disregarded in our community that we can begin to work towards change, and how else but through the arts can we best come together to wholeheartedly share and understand one another’s experiences? I’m sure the beautiful experience behind the scenes during pre-production, and on set, will translate onto the screen…