Here are the memories of Tiantan Award. Today, we would like to bring you the film Ben is Back, which depicts the journey of a delinquent teenage boy’s returning home. It is one of the nominated works of the Tiantan Award of the 9th Beijing International Film Festival. Producer of the film Teddy Schwarzman shared with us stories behind the scenes.
The name tells the story. Drug addicted Ben suddenly returns home on Christmas Eve. His mother warmly welcomes his return and the family seems to enjoy the eve of the holiday. But soon Ben’s problem reappears, and his relation with his mom and the family becomes more intense. The beloved son’s every dangerous behavior exhausts his mom, makes her break down again, and puts the just reunited family on the verge of downfall.
The whole story is cleverly packed into 24 fours, which makes the bursting points of emotion more intensive and powerful. Within one single day, the unexpected guest causes ups and downs of the family; within one single day, his mom’s mood changes from joy, to anger and misery while Ben himself shifts from joy to sorrow and resolution. Academy award winner Julie Roberts (Ben’s mom) and Lucas Hedges (Ben) contribute fairly impressive performance, and fully demonstrate the unwavering love between mother and son. As Teddy Schwarzman explained about his collaboration with Julie Roberts, “It’s stunning and pleasant to have worked with her. She’s fully committed and dedicated to the artistic creation. She was always the first to arrive on the set and the last to leave. She’s quite funny. She was good at and happy about lightening the crew’s mood and making the crew at ease. We truly appreciate her efforts to help us produce such a profound work.”
It’s quite challenging to shoot the so-called “undiscovered treasure of the Academy Award”. As Schwarzman indicated, “it took about 30 days to shoot the film. Since the story happens on the Christmas Eve, all the scenes were filmed in winter when it got the coldest in New York. The temperature fell below zero Celsius degree on average. The city was even hit by a blizzard one day, and declared state of emergency. The crew was therefore forced to stop work.” Despite various challenges, the crew hung in there and managed to finish the work because they hope “the film will inspire us to care about family members and the growth of the next generation”.