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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #10: James Ponsoldt, ‘Smashed’

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #10: James Ponsoldt, 'Smashed'

Smashed” (playing in the U.S. Dramatic Competition) is the story of a romance that is built on imbibing — perhaps too much. 

What’s it about? Fidelity. What it means to be committed to someone when you need to change your life, but your partner isn’t up for making the same change.

Says director James Ponsoldt: “My co-writer – Susan Burke – and I set out to write a screenplay about an alcoholic that didn’t deal in objectification. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who plays our lead, “Kate”) is an amazing, vulnerable, and profoundly empathetic actor, so her ability to fully inhabit the character and make her relatable helped us tremendously. And Susan is sober and has a lot of experience with recovery, so our story should feel authentic.”

“Basically, this was my breakthrough: hire people who are smarter and more talented than yourself, explain your story and ideas clearly, listen to what they have to say and then give them the autonomy and creative freedom to elevate your film. It’s liberating. You can always respectfully disagree if you don’t like something. But to treat everyone as an equal, a collaborator, and to let the best idea win out (wherever it comes from). If a director doesn’t enjoy that, they should probably take up something more solitary, like knitting or whittling.

“I hope audiences like hanging out with the characters in our film; I sure do. And whether “Kate” and “Charlie” – the married couple at the center of “Smashed” – make good partners, or are co-dependent and enable each other’s worst behavior and are better off apart, well, I think it would be great if audiences are completely divided. I’m very curious to hear how people feel.”

Indiewire invited Sundance 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.

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