Movie Watch: Rust Creek

Continuing our desire to highlight upcoming independent and foreign films we think you should be aware of, we look at “Rust Creek,” the latest from director Jen McGowan.

This movie would have eventually hit my radar next week, as I started researching the theatrical releases for early January, but I was alerted to it by an old friend from high school, who asked me if my theatre, a rather upscale place in one of the more affluent neighborhoods of Los Angeles, might play it. Sadly, I replied, we would not be, because most exhibitors just will not show any movie that also gets released on VOD/SVOD anywhere near the theatrical release window. Exhibitors simply do not like the collapse of the windows between theatrical and home video, and I fully understand both sides of the coin. While being part of the same business, exhibitors and distributors have different points of view of what is best for our industry. Neither side is necessarily wrong, and my heart and head are naturally with the exhibitors. And now even Netflix is starting to understand the importance of some kind of theatrical window, with their pre-streaming releases of The Coen Brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Susanne Bier’s “Bird Box” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” opening in theatres one to three weeks before their streaming debuts. (“Roma,” in particular, has been getting the strongest theatrical push from Netflix, due to its front runner status with Oscar prognosticators, although still mostly with independent theatres.)

So when “Rust Creek” is unleashed on the world on January 4th, the only way you’ll be able to see it outside of one theatre in New York City (the IFC Film Center) and one theatre in Los Angeles (like the iPic in Westwood or the Arena Cinelounge Sunset in Hollywood), you’ll only be able to see this movie is on your computer or television. This kind of video-heavy release has worked for IFC Films and its various labels (“Rust Creek” will go out via its genre-specific IFC Midnight label) for damn near twenty years, and any chance for any filmmaker to get even one show on one screen for one night is a minor victory nowadays.

In “Rust Creek,” an ordinary woman must summon extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey. Sawyer (Hermione Corfield) is an ambitious, overachieving college senior with a seemingly bright future. While on her way to a job interview, a wrong turn leaves her stranded deep in the frozen Kentucky woods. Suddenly, the young woman with everything to live for finds herself facing her own mortality as she’s punished by the elements and pursued by a band of ruthless outlaws. With nowhere left to run, she is forced into an uneasy alliance with Lowell (Jay Paulson), an enigmatic loner with shadowy intentions. Though she’s not sure she can trust him, Sawyer must take a chance if she hopes to escape Rust Creek alive.

Ms. McGowan’s first feature, “Kelly & Cal,” starred Juliette Lewis, Cybill Shepherd, and Jonny Weston, premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, where she won the Gamechanger Director Award. The film was released by IFC Films to rave reviews. She got her start with the award-winning short films “Confessions of a Late Bloomer” and Touch, both of which played at over a hundred festivals in the US and abroad. Ms. McGowan is also the creator of filmpowered.com, a skill-sharing site by women and for women in Film and Television, which was named as a Best in LA website for 2016 by LA Weekly, and has also been featured on Indiewire and is part of the Sundance Women’s Initiative Resource. She is also a Film Independent Fellow, a finalist for the Clint Eastwood Filmmakers Award, and a recipient of the AWD Breakout Award for Excellence in Directing, and named one of Vulture’s Women Directors Hollywood Should Be Hiring.

So make sure you find this film by hook or by crook when it gets unleashed in a few weeks. Check out the trailer below, and follow Jen McGowan for more about the film’s release.

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