If home is where the heart is, the romantic drama A Country Called Home is definitely rooted in the heart of musician Ryan Bingham and his collaborator, director/writer Anna Axster.
The two paired up to craft this appealing story of 27-year old Ellie (Imogen Poots), who leaves Los Angeles to visit her estranged, deceased father’s home in a small Texas town. As she arranges the funeral, she meets her grandparents and alcoholic stepmother, and makes new friends, and comes to terms with her past. The film made its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival last weekend.
Axster has crafted films and music videos for years, but this is her passion project, conceived with Bingham, who also provides the movie’s strong soundtrack.
Bingham also co-stars in the film as Ellie’s stepmother’s son and Ellie’s would-be love interest. Named Artist of the Year by the American Music Association in 2010, and renowned for his Oscar-winning music in Jeff Bridge’s Crazy Heart, Bingham’s tunes provide a resonant backdrop to this coming-of-age-late tale.
Poots — first seen on screen in the dystopian thriller 28 Weeks Later — brings a sensitive glow to her role here.
Bringing sensitive gravitas to her grandmotherly role is June Squibb, most recently in seen in Nebraska.
Axster says she started writing the film’s story three years ago. “After dealing with the death of a parent and traveling with Ryan, I was drawn to this idea for a project. It’s really about cultural travel in this country. It’s about finding unexpected things in unlikely places, things that make your preconceptions change.”
Axster was also exploring the nature of parenthood with this project. “Every character in the film deals with their parents, with parenthood, or with their childhood. Seeing how people deal with their parents, with their past, that’s a universal thing. It’s something I felt most people can relate to at any given time in their lives.”
After reading the script all the way through, Bingham was inspired to create the soundtrack. “The songs really came directly from the script,” Bingham noted. “They really wrote themselves. The script is so personal to Anna and I, it’s based on real experiences with family. The music is a direct outgrowth of those experiences. I watched the footage, I played guitar, and the music just came, truly just based on the emotions in the film.”
The film was shot in 20 days in and around Smithville, Texas and funded in part through a Kickstarter campaign. Look for a release of both film and soundtrack soon.