Thursday, April 12 at 5:00 PM
Plays With: Bless These Sounds Under the City
Joshua Overbay | Asheville, NC | 96 min
Against his wife’s wishes, a troubled screenwriter hops on a plane for Hollywood to make one last-ditch attempt at selling his latest script. When a heavy-drinking, melancholic singer nearly plows him down with her car late one night, the two form a deep emotional bond that alters them both in unanticipated ways. Improvised dialogue and intimate, naturalistic camerawork lend a heart-wrenching authenticity to this bleak and beautiful character study.
We asked our filmmakers some questions about them and their work. For further questions, join us at the designated post-screening Q+A!
Joshua Overbay & Andrea Morgenlander:
1. What is your connection to the South?
My father was an itenerant missionary baptist preacher. Our life was in constant motion, moving from one southern town to the next. We tried South Carolina, North Carolina, and Texas before settling in Tennessee. The South radically shaped my lens on the world. And for this reason I decided to return to it, moving to Asheville, NC in 2016.
Asheville also serves as the backdrop for “Luke & Jo.” Its atypical, yet defiantly Southern vibe – combined with its mountainous backdrop – served as the perfect cinematic landscape for this deeply personal narrative.
2. Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
My life seemed like it was over. I felt stuck, and hid my deepening depression from those closest to me. Then, I took a trip to the Austin Film Festival and everything changed.
Through a series of serendipitous encounters and deeply honest conversations, I woke up to the fact that I had the power to reshape my life. Vulnerability created the space for openness. And openness created the space for hope. For the first time in years, I knew my life could change. And when I returned home, it did so quickly and dramatically.
Before the dust settled, I started work on “Luke & Jo.” It felt effortless, but risky. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to do something autobiographical and improvisational. I knew it would make me feel vulnerable, but also trusted that vulnerability and risk were the keys to creating compelling work. Plus, given all the changes in my life, I became more comfortable navigating uncharted waters.
Some of the most transformative moments of my life have happened at unexpected, uncontrolled times. Seasons of overwhelming grief or confusion. In these moments, when our patterns or protective armor are stripped down, we’re forced to find a new way to experience our own lives. Sometimes this transformation happens in a beautiful, external way, but for me that hasn’t been the reality. These seasons of darkness yielded to a more empathetic and expansive worldview. They’ve been my greatest teachers, empowering not just my own understanding of trauma and pain, but also my ability to extend grace to others and myself. For both Luke and Jo, this is one of those pivotal moments.
3. How did you start making films?
Raised a preacher’s son, I was immersed in a strong narrative tradition that prized highly-charged collective emotional experiences. Movies, in many ways, are like pentecostal services: both are designed to emotionally move you, both are organized around a clear theme, and ultimately their goal is to change you in a deep, lasting way. So even though I didn’t start making movies until film school, my entire life was founded on the life-changing power of highly-crafted narrative experiences.
4. Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
Josh and I started dating. It was both interesting and funny.
5. What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
My first feature film, “As It Is in Heaven,” played and won the Top Grit at the 2014 Indie Grits. However, due to financial limitations, I was unable to attend. I’ve regretted it since. Now, I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to screen at and, finally attend, Indie Grits. The staff has always been incredibly warm, communicative, and downright kind. I cannot wait for 5:00pm on Thursday, April 12th!
As North Carolina-based filmmakers, we’re incredibly excited to be premiering Luke & Jo at a festival so close to home. Given Indie Grits’ commitment to uplifting a diversity of southern experiences, it’s an honor to be included in a program that celebrates the dignity of all beings and their stories. I’m greatly looking forward to connecting with other independent artists who are tackling socially relevant and challenging subject matter in an honest way.
6. Why should someone see your film?
With its electric visual language and fully improvised script, Luke & Jo creates an eclectic experience that invites viewers to drop-in to the emotional world of its protagonists. Interwoven with small victories and inner chaos are elements of faith and hope. Our film is an immersive reminder of the power of connectivity, and the unpredictable nature of relationships. Our commitment to realism and down-to-earth, truthful performance creates a space for truly resonant viewing.