“Leave No Trace” director Debra Granik is always “curious about … ordinary people in our country who live against the grain,” she tells Gold Derby, so the Oscar-nominated filmmaker was drawn immediately to Peter Rock‘s book “My Abandonment,” which focuses on an Army vet (Ben Foster) raising his daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) in the woods of Portland, OR.
“It starts with a mystery about why a family is living undetected in a municipal park and how they managed to do that,” she adds. In approaching that mystery, Granik hoped to discover “the why and how.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“He was living in a way that he could function pretty highly,” she explains about her central character’s struggle with PTSD. “I felt like he was in a hurry, almost, to teach everything that he could teach to his daughter, everything that he had that was worthy and rich and good.” The director had spent time with veterans while shooting her documentary “Stray Dog” (2014), which gave her “a three-year dialogue” from which she could craft Foster‘s character. “I understood a huge amount from traveling with them because they did have stories to tell.”
Granik’s last scripted film, “Winter’s Bone” (2010), earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay with co-writer Anne Rosellini, and it also contended for Best Picture. The film additionally brought Granik Independent Spirit Award bids for writing and directing. She also contended at the Spirits for her feature debut, “Down to the Bone” (John Cassavetes Award in 2004), and “Stray Dog” (Best Documentary in 2014).
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