BIFF YEAR ’ROUND Spring 2022
Wednesday, May 18th, 6:30 PM, 2022
Downtown Beloit Association Office
557 E. Grand Ave. Downtown Beloit
Zoom Q&A Following!
“One of the first great films I’ve seen in 2022…impeccably cast, superbly directed and utterly captivating”
— Matt Fagerholm, RogerEbert.com
RELATIVE is a comedy/drama about three days in the life of a modern American family. Karen Frank (Wendy Robie) and her husband David (Francis Guinan) are retirement-age progressive activists who have lived in the same Victorian home in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood for 30 years. It’s the house in which their four children grew up and where two of their children, adult sons Benji (Cameron Scott Roberts) and Rod (Keith D. Gallagher), still live. On the eve of Benji’s graduation from college, daughters Evonne (Clare Cooney) and Norma (Emily Lape) return home from out-of-state for a weekend celebration. Evonne brings her daughter, Emma (Arielle Gonzalez), and newly separated wife, Lucia (Melissa DuPrey); Norma arrives alone, with thoughts of wasted potential as she reconsiders her suburban life; Rod, an unemployed burnout, pines for Sarah (Heather Chrisler), the “cam girl” ex who left him years ago; and all Benji wants to do is escape the party to rendezvous with Hekla (Elizabeth Stam), a free-spirited actress he met the night prior. As David and Karen announce the potential sale of their home, each member of the Frank family finds their bonds with the others being tested – and strengthened – in surprising ways.
News & Reviews
“RELATIVE Q&A with Wendy Robie (TWIN PEAKS), Clare Cooney, Emily Lape, Melissa DuPrey and More!”
Cinema Femme Magazine
“Grand Jury Award for Chicago Indie RELATIVE and WALKING DEAD star Roberts”
“At the Siskel Center, Rogers Park is Tuesday’s Star”
“A Family is at a Crossroads in Exclusive Trailer for Michael Glover Smith’s RELATIVE”
The Film Stage
I’ve always been skeptical of the phrase “dysfunctional family” since all families would seem dysfunctional if one were able to observe them closely enough. In creating RELATIVE, my goal was to contrive a scenario that would allow me to lift the veil on the complex bonds that exist between members of a modern American family — showing the deep love and affection between them on the one hand and the resentments and jealousies roiling just under the surface on the other. I also wanted to capture the inherent sadness of how families evolve and ultimately “disintegrate” (to quote Fran Guinan’s character) over time.
RELATIVE asks what it means to be a parent, a child, a brother, a sister. While my previous three films deal with romantic relationships between characters in their 20s and 30s, RELATIVE primarily examines parent-child relationships and sibling bonds across three generations of the same family. I strove to stretch myself as a writer/director by creating characters of diverse ages and tried to mine each of their lives for emotional and psychological truth. Thanks to the best ensemble cast with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working, I believe the end result shows, in a manner that I hope is universal and timeless, both the difficulties and the rewards that come with being a relative.
Michael Glover Smith
Michael Glover Smith wrote and directed the independent feature films COOL APOCALYPSE (2015), MERCURY IN RETROGRADE (2017) and RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO (2018), all of which won awards at festivals across the U.S. and were the subject of rave reviews.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper wrote that “Smith has a deft touch for creating characters who look and sound like people we know” and RogerEbert.com’s Matt Fagerholm has called him “one of the Windy City’s finest filmmakers.” His films have screened at Rooftop Cinema Club in Los Angeles, Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn and the Gene Siskel Film Center and Music Box Theater in Chicago.
He was a recipient of the Siskel Center’s Star Filmmaker award in 2017 and made Newcity Chicago’s “Film 50” list in 2018 and 2020 for being one of fifty individuals who “shape Chicago’s film scene.” He teaches film history at several colleges and is the author of FLICKERING EMPIRE (Columbia University Press, 2015), an acclaimed nonfiction book about film production in Chicago during the silent era.