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Ballast
     

Ballast

Director: Lance Hammer

Cast: Michael J. Smith Sr., Jim Myron Ross, Tarra Riggs

 

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The static living arrangement between three lonely souls living in a rural Mississippi Delta township is suddenly shaken up due to a tragic suicide in this intimate family drama from first-time writer/director Lance Hammer. Single mother Marley was barely getting by when her 12-year-old son James fell into a dangerous cycle of drugs and

Overview

The static living arrangement between three lonely souls living in a rural Mississippi Delta township is suddenly shaken up due to a tragic suicide in this intimate family drama from first-time writer/director Lance Hammer. Single mother Marley was barely getting by when her 12-year-old son James fell into a dangerous cycle of drugs and violence. Desperate to escape her current surroundings and save her son from becoming another statistic, Marley seeks safe harbor at a home on the property of Lawrence -- a man with whom she has been locked into a bitter feud ever since the birth of her son. Brought together by circumstance and left with little choice but to work through their hardships, Marley, James, and Lawrence do their best to move beyond the grief that has befallen them, and transform tragedy into the foundation for a new and hopeful future.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Lance Hammer's debut feature, Ballast, has a storyline -- it has narrative momentum, and pacing (exquisite pacing, in fact), and all of the other requirements that a dramatic film should possess. And Hammer has handled these elements of his film with the delicacy of an accomplished filmmaker. But where Ballast succeeds on a level that shoots right off the charts is in matters of tone -- visual tone, to be sure, but also in the larger ambient sense. Using a cast of non-professional actors who give performances that you probably couldn't buy for a million dollars per performer from professionals, Hammer and his camera capture an essence of the setting that attracted him, the barren, beautiful heart of the Mississippi Delta. The mix of long, languid exteriors, the close intimate drama of the four principal players (five if you count the wonderful but unobtrusive canine Juneau), and the natural sound throughout end up yielding the visual equivalent of a Debussy or Delius orchestral tone poem, or a Turner landscape painting -- except that this movie does tell a story that moves forward at precisely the right pace, with finely nuanced performances from all concerned. Indeed, this is the kind of movie for which one would not only wish eventually to own a DVD edition, but also a photo book of stills, of actual shots and settings. And one must interrupt the well-deserved praise for Hammer and his crew to add that the movie is worth seeing for the work of Jim Myron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail, and especially Michael J. Smith Sr. as Lawrence, the survivor of a family tragedy. Professional actors work for years to achieve what they all do in this movie, and audiences should treat themselves to their work, as well, on top of that of Hammer's vision and accomplishment.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/10/2009
UPC:
0738329067120
Original Release:
2008
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kino Video
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:36:00
Sales rank:
79,775

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael J. Smith Lawrence
Jim Myron Ross James
Tarra Riggs Marlee
Johnny McPhail Actor
Ventress Bonner Actor
Jimez Alexander Actor
Jean Paul Guillory Actor
Marcus Alexander Actor
Marquice Alexander Actor
Lawrence Jackson Actor

Technical Credits
Lance Hammer Director,Editor,Producer,Screenwriter
Andrew Adamson Executive Producer
Andrea Adamson Executive Producer
Lol Crawley Cinematographer
Caroline Eselin-Schaeffer Costumes/Costume Designer
Mary Goodson Production Designer
John J. Hammer Executive Producer
Mark Johnson Executive Producer
Kent Sparling Sound/Sound Designer
Jerel Levanway Production Designer
Juan Mazara Asst. Director
Nina Parikh Producer
Aimee Shieh Executive Producer
Francine Thomas Casting
Sam Watson Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Director supervised high-definition digital transfer from the 35mm interpositive; Ballast Scene Development, a 37-minute making-of feature charting the evolution of several scenes through the improvisational sessions and two-month rehearsal process that gave form to the final film; Original theatrical trailer

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