: Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Embeth Davidtz Director
: Rowan WoodsGenre
: Crime, DramaRated
: MRunning Time
: 104 minutes Synopsis
: A moment of random violence erupts in an ordinary Los Angeles diner. The survivors (Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Forest Whitaker) find that the meanings of their lives have changed. No matter how much their families and friends (Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Embeth Davidtz) attempt to understand, these individuals must follow their own paths to recovery seeking to regain trust in a world that now seems chaotic.A story of tragedy and hope for our times, Winged Creatures is a powerful ensemble drama that explores the notion that our lives are fleeting, like birds in flight, like winged creatures.Release Date
: 9th of July, 2009Director's Statement
In 2006, Winged Creatures came to me while I was in Los Angeles with my wife and three kids. We had ventured from Australia on a world safari, stopping off in Vietnam on the way to the US. We had plans to travel to Europe before heading back to Australia through the Middle East.
While in Los Angeles, I was concerned with the number of shootings in our new neighborhood, and the quiet ferocity of Winged Creatures struck me as a screenplay that confronted the hypocrisy of the U.S. gun lobby without being overtly political.
My second movie (Little Fish), starring Cate Blanchett as a recovering junkie, was in U.S. theatres at the time and like my first movie (The Boys), the subject matter was tough and uncompromising. As a result, my agent suggested we find a less intense, more audience-friendly project for my first American movie.
While Roy Freirich's Winged Creatures wasn't quite the happy antidote we were looking for, it was too tempting. It dwelled on the human side of a senseless shooting. The script grabbed hold of me and didn't let go, just as it had hooked producer Bob Salerno (21 Grams) several years before.
From New York, Bob had revealed to me his experience of the events of September 11 and how Winged Creatures for him was in some ways a cathartic re-examination of the aftermath of those tragic events. I later discovered that the screenplay had already gained a strong, positive reaction from Forest Whitaker and other luminaries who spoke about the story structure that boldly linked the characters' traumatic free-fall.
Financing the project was very tough as was the shooting on a very low budget considering the 240 plus scenes and 50 plus locations. And the edit was grueling. But it was a wonderful journey. I had a very devoted, loyal cast and crew who rallied under intense pressure like no others I had worked with. I felt very close to them and very grateful when we completed the schedule inside 26 days with no major hiccups. The post-production unfortunately stretched longer than planned. The five interweaving storylines and flashbacks made for a million interpretations and I was grateful for the respectful notes coming from all sides.
And so it is with a heavy heart that I let the movie go with all the usual fear and uncertainty.
On looking back at Winged Creatures after nearly a year and another film under my belt, I recognise what I feared and loved in the original screenplay: a relentless cause-and-effect narrative; a bold didacticism on the subject of Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorders; and an earnest tone, daringly devoid of irony, which in itself invites a cynical response.
All of these traits atop a multi-storyline, time-trick structure which has become a common place sub-genre with the films of Paul Haggis (Crash), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) and other bigger studio movies already part of cinema history.
What is perhaps even more exciting and treacherous is the movie's search for hope.
According to conventional wisdom, making a movie to explicitly achieve an against-all-odds happy ending should be avoided at all costs. But constructing a story that can end with the plausible salvation of all its heroes is perhaps viable. And it could be relevant if, in the case of Winged Creatures, the hero's sense of reason has been shattered into pieces during a random shooting.
But it is a fine line you walk, because the smart cinema audience does not want easy answers. If they smell an easy answer and a 'happy ending', you are dead. Winged Creatures tread this line.
Winged Creatures should be a reminder that we have become immune to the real hurt and suffering of innocent victims caught in the midst of extreme violence - suffering that lingers long after a shooting occurs.
And Winged Creatures treads a dangerous line by suggesting that the self-torment, the guilt and the disillusion suffered by the innocent victims of a gun crime are often alleviated in the fullness of time. In the real world, there is real hope.
- Rowan Woods