It was touching to see so many friends, who had already seen the film, come out to see it again on the big screen. And it was an opportunity to share the film with a new audience, and some talented filmmakers we met at the festival.
Pictured above are some of the cast and crew who came to the screening. Back row, left to right: producer Josh Clavir, star Michael Benyaer, producer Evan Cholfin. Front row: composer Leah Curtis, special thanks Julia Macri, director me, cinematographer Sean Conaty, star Merik Tadros, and first assistant director (and so much more) John Dion.
In the question and answer period, someone asked about the biggest challenge we faced in making To Rest in Peace. For me, it was definitely finding the right cast and the right locations.
We filmed principle photography in Southern California to match for Kuwait, which took almost a year of location scouting. Casting was equally difficult. We ran many auditions over several months. There was a time when, between location scouting and casting, I considered pulling the plug. The story is so important to me, it seemed better to put it on hold than to do it injustice. Then Michael Benyaer found us. And he introduced us to Merik Tadros. And our casting director, Cleo Valente, brought in her friend, Rajia Baroudi. And with that trinity in place, I knew I had a movie.
Moving forward, we were able to find the perfect person for every role, Paul and Andre Yousefian for the children, Michel Bayan and Zack Morad for the soldiers, Charles Anteby for the doctor, Hugh Mun and Anan Mallik for the Red Crescent workers, and, of course, Ralph Lopez and Mir Weiss Najibi for the two men whom Malek buries.
It has been such a long journey, and this festival stop is one of the brightest highlights. LA Shorts is still going on, so we look forward to more screenings over the next week!