SXSW Interview: ‘MY BLIND BROTHER’ director takes personal short to memorable feature

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My_Blind_Brother_FFTV_1Preston Barta // Editor

Short films can often be cultivated and grown into something more rewarding. Just look at DISTRICT 9 and BOOGIE NIGHTS, which both started as shorts and later became highly acclaimed feature-length films.

Filmmaker Sophie Goodhart may be cinema’s next big candidate with MY BLIND BROTHER.
Based on the 2003 short of the same name, MY BLIND BROTHER is making its world premiere at South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin next weekend. It stars Adam Scott (PARKS AND RECREATION) as Robbie, a blind athlete who falls for the same woman (Jenny Slate) as his aggrieved brother, Bill (Nick Kroll).

What started as a comedic short about the complicated relationship between brothers quickly became a moving and more intensified feature. It took this simple yet effective premise and expanded upon it in an enriching way.

Filmmaker Sophie Goodhart. Photo courtesy of festival de cannes.

Filmmaker Sophie Goodhart. Photo courtesy of festival de cannes.

“After I did the short, I thought I’d put the idea to bed,” Goodhart said in a recent phone conversation. “I thought there was no more story to tell, but it kept lingering.”

Goodhart tried to move past the concept by working on another story, about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend on the day he’s killed.

“It was going to be a more comedic approach to what seems like a dark subject of guilt, but the story was too thin,” said Goodhart. “So I got the idea of converging the two storylines and it took off from there. It changed quite organically.”

The story of the brothers stemmed from her own relationship with her sister, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“When that happened some years ago, I began to notice how my family would treat her saint-like, and I grew jealous. I thought, ‘How can I be jealous about something so terrible? She’s my sister,’” Goodhart recalled. “So I began to write about our relationship and later noticed a newspaper article about a blind swimmer who swam across this lake. Then, it occurred to me that this was the perfect cinematic situation for me to put my story into.”

While MY BLIND BROTHER may seem like a somber film, it features some of the more humorous scenes put on screen in some time. One of those scenes — let’s keep it spoiler-free — involves someone getting dressed on a couch while in Robbie’s presence. It’s the type of situational comedy that’s rare these days.

“I love and am drawn to those tortuous situations, very much like that scene,” Goodhart said. “I like those moments where we’re exposed and deeply uncomfortable.”

The scene is indeed painful but funny to watch unfold. The film is a different type of comedy, which is why SXSW is the perfect home for this film to premiere.

MY BLIND BROTHER premieres at 7:15 p.m. March 12 at Austin’s Topfer Theatre at Zach Theatre. There are additional showings on March 14 and March 18. For more information, visit www.sxsw.com.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.

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