For his first trip to the Sundance Film Festival with a feature film (his 2004 film Dear Pillow played the Slamdance Film Festival), writer-director Bryan Poyser brings us Lovers of Hate (one of my favorite 2010 Sundance titles by the way), a dark comedy about two brothers who are in love with the same woman. Aside from his two feature films, Poyser has directed a number of shorts -- one of which played SXSW and starred Mumblecore hero Joe Swanberg.
Cinematical caught up with Poyser to ask him a few general questions about his film and film festival life prior to Lovers of Hate screening in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival next week.
Cinematical: Give us the "dude on the street" description of your film
Bryan Poyser: LOVERS OF HATE is a twisted love triangle about two estranged brothers in love with the same woman. It culminates in this giant 4-story 6-bedroom house on the side of a mountain in Park City, Utah, where the much-more-successful of the two brothers has invited the woman for a romantic weekend. But, the other brother actually makes it to the house first and he attempts to sabotage their sexy weekend from the shadows, playing little tricks to try to tear them apart. It's kinda suspenseful, sometimes creepy and there are poop jokes.
Cinematical: What sort of a message did you want to get out with this film in terms of the relationships we have with our same sex siblings or siblings in general?
Bryan Poyser: Well, I actually don't have a brother, I have a sister and our relationship is nothing like the extremely contentious one between the two brothers Rudy & Paul in this film. My sis and I did share some elaborate childhood mythologies like Rudy & Paul, though. We would make up stories about fantasy worlds, draw maps, write comic books, etc. For this film, I just imagined what it would be like if one of us took all that and turned it into a highly successful series of children's books without the other's involvement. In the film, Paul is working on the final book in a 6-book series about "Maxmillian and the Invisible Kids," which is based on stories his older brother Rudy would tell him as a kid. Rudy has grown to be incredibly bitter and resentful of his brother's success, feeling like Paul stole all his ideas from him and never gave him the proper credit. And, then, Paul starts moving in on Diana, Rudy's soon-to-be-ex-wife, trying to steal her, too, and Rudy just kinda flips out. Hilariously!
In terms of a message, I don't know. I am certainly exploiting the notion of sibling rivalry, pushing it to an extreme to mine humor from it. But, at the end of the film, I'm also hoping to give a sense of how self-destructive resentment and bitterness can be, how it can become an insurmountable obstacle to emotional growth.
Cinematical: What's your one film festival rule?
Bryan Poyser: Be nice to people. Especially volunteers. It's frickin' cold out there, standing at a shuttle stop, telling people when the next bus is coming. Say thanks and ask them how their day is going.
Watch the festival's "Meet the Artists" video with Poyser below.
Here's the full synopsis on the film...
In this delicious tale of resentment, deceit, and sibling rivalry, two adult brothers, Rudy and Paul, represent failure and success. Younger brother Paul is a successful author who writes Harry Potter-like fantasy novels for children. The painful part is that Rudy, an aspiring writer, was Paul's original childhood collaborator on the stories. The one thing they do have in common is their love for Diana. Although Rudy is married to Diana, their divorce is impending-and he currently lives out of his car. Ever the opportunist, Paul makes his move on Diana.
Director Bryan Poyser brilliantly executes an intricate game of cat and mouse in a ski lodge (incidentally, the film culminates in Park City, Utah). A testament to the actors and a tightly constructed script, Lovers of Hate juggles humor and despair and pushes situations and characters to extremes while remaining in complete control. There are no clear winners in this story, but it is one enjoyable, tragicomic ride.
And lastly, for those curious, here's the trailer for Dear Pillo (warning: NSFW, includes foul language).
For more on Lovers of Hate, including screening times and ticket availability, see the film's page on the Sundance website.