Matt Ruskin, like many filmmakers, discovered the films of the 1970s and became obsessed. As a Boston teenager, Ruskin says, "These films seemed so much more authentic than other movies I had seen. It was the first time I became conscious of the filmmakers who were behind them, and I started to quietly think about what kind of films I would make if given the opportunity." While in film school he got to work with Darren Aronofsky on "Requiem for a Dream." After that, he had ten years of making docs. "Booster" is his return to the narrative form.
What it's about: "Booster is a meditative film about a young man struggling to navigate Boston’s criminal underworld. When Simon’s brother is arrested for armed robbery, he is asked to commit a string of similar crimes in an attempt to get his brother acquitted. Caught between loyalty to his brother and his own will, Simon is forced to examine his life."
Director Ruskin says: "We wanted to tell this story in a really honest way. We didn't want to glorify any of the crime elements. Instead, we tried to make the discomfort and internal struggle of our characters palpable. We cast non-actors who were familiar with the world depicted in the film to add a layer of authenticity and we shot at locations that these characters would inhabit. We wanted the world to feel real."
Did any films inspire this one? "While we were in pre-production I asked my DP Tim Gillis to watch 'Gomorrah' by Matteo Garrone. Everything in that movie seems real. It feels like a documentary in that sense, but it is incredibly cinematic at the same time. I thought if we could achieve one-tenth of what they accomplished, we'd be doing really well."
What's next? "I have been developing a biopic about William Kunstler, the famous civil rights lawyer. I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to help his daughters produce a documentary about his life called 'Disturbing the Universe.' I think he was an extraordinary person and his career serves as a common thread for some of the most interesting and important dissidents in this country's history."
Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.