Sat Feb 29, 2020 – 5:00 pm | Domenico’s Domenico’s – 100
It’s the eve of perpetual good guy Ben’s wedding to practically perfect in every way Lisa, and he couldn’t be happier. But when his wild ex-girlfriend, Jules, suddenly reappears after leaving him in the lurch three years prior, Ben is faced with an unforeseen decision. Desperately hoping to appease everyone, Ben ignores the urging of his brash yet well-meaning “best man” Rachel, and neglects to immediately kick Jules and her eccentric bestie Maria out of the house.
When Lisa shows up, called to the scene by his oddball older brother Bobby (who maybe didn’t think that phone call through), emotions amplify, and friendships begin to buckle under the strain. It takes Rachel literally slapping some sense into Ben for him to finally articulate what he truly wants. Through a darkly comedic lens, WE ARE GATHERED HERE emphasizes the importance of friendship as it examines social expectations, teetering fragility, and the active struggle with “obligations” that come with each new marker of adulthood.
We Are Gathered Here began as a play performed in non-air-conditioned living rooms across Los Angeles as part of cARTel: Collaborative Arts’s Living Room Tour play series. Audiences crammed onto couches and throw pillows in sweltering heat to watch six wacky characters figure out how Ben should move forward with his life.
The film explores the theme of the expectations of adulthood, and plays with the idea that even if you seem to have it all together, you definitely don’t. The stage version explored this in a humorous and at times absurd way, leaving audiences rolling in their seats. As the piece was adapted for the screen, a more heartfelt and grounded, though still comedic, version of the story started to blossom as both the director and actors worked to explore the depths of the characters and their journeys. Working with a very limited production schedule, I along with cinematographer Megan Richardson Shy chose visual language that is reminiscent of how the piece might be presented on stage – wider framing, long takes, and photo (versus cine) lenses that allowed the piece to keep its theatrical feel and still be completed within the allotted time for principal photography, while honoring the type of dialogue-driven, ensemble experience We Are Gathered Here is meant to be.
Joanna Bowzer is a director/producer of film and theatre. Her work has been described as both ‘casually sardonic’ (LA Weekly) and a ‘breath of fresh air’ (NY Theater Review), and her award-winning films have played over 40 festivals including Slamdance, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Catalina International Film Festival, and Manhattan Film Festival. WE ARE GATHERED HERE is her sophomore directorial feature. Joanna is a member of Film Fatales and the Alliance of Women Directors.