Short films can often be cultivated and grown into something more rewarding. Just look at DISTRICT 9 and BOOGIE NIGHTS, which both started as shorts and later became highly acclaimed feature-length films.
Filmmaker Sophie Goodhart may be cinema’s next big candidate with MY BLIND BROTHER.
Based on the 2003 short of the same name, MY BLIND BROTHER is making its world premiere at South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin next weekend. It stars Adam Scott (PARKS AND RECREATION) as Robbie, a blind athlete who falls for the same woman (Jenny Slate) as his aggrieved brother, Bill (Nick Kroll).
What started as a comedic short about the complicated relationship between brothers quickly became a moving and more intensified feature. It took this simple yet effective premise and expanded upon it in an enriching way.
“After I did the short, I thought I’d put the idea to bed,” Goodhart said in a recent phone conversation. “I thought there was no more story to tell, but it kept lingering.”
Goodhart tried to move past the concept by working on another story, about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend on the day he’s killed.
“It was going to be a more comedic approach to what seems like a dark subject of guilt, but the story was too thin,” said Goodhart. “So I got the idea of converging the two storylines and it took off from there. It changed quite organically.”
The story of the brothers stemmed from her own relationship with her sister, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“When that happened some years ago, I began to notice how my family would treat her saint-like, and I grew jealous. I thought, ‘How can I be jealous about something so terrible? She’s my sister,’” Goodhart recalled. “So I began to write about our relationship and later noticed a newspaper article about a blind swimmer who swam across this lake. Then, it occurred to me that this was the perfect cinematic situation for me to put my story into.”
While MY BLIND BROTHER may seem like a somber film, it features some of the more humorous scenes put on screen in some time. One of those scenes — let’s keep it spoiler-free — involves someone getting dressed on a couch while in Robbie’s presence. It’s the type of situational comedy that’s rare these days.
“I love and am drawn to those tortuous situations, very much like that scene,” Goodhart said. “I like those moments where we’re exposed and deeply uncomfortable.”
The scene is indeed painful but funny to watch unfold. The film is a different type of comedy, which is why SXSW is the perfect home for this film to premiere.
MY BLIND BROTHER premieres at 7:15 p.m. March 12 at Austin’s Topfer Theatre at Zach Theatre. There are additional showings on March 14 and March 18. For more information, visit www.sxsw.com.