4/4 Stars. (Ballast) inexorably grows and deepens and gathers power and absorbs us. I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people. --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
There isn t much talk and not a drop of cynicism in (Ballast), Lance Hammer s austerely elegant, emotionally unadorned riff on life and death in the Mississippi Delta. Shot with a sure hand and a cast of unknowns, the film doesn t so much tell a story as develop a tone and root around a place that, despite the intimate camerawork, remains shrouded in ambiguity. ...It s a serious achievement and a welcome sign of a newly invigorated American independent cinema. --Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
BALLAST has the heft and substance its name implies. A double prize winner at Sundance, this austere, rigorous film has a sense of place, a feeling for reality so compelling it makes us feel like we're living it, not just watching on a screen. --Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER: BEST DIRECTOR / BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
NOMINATED: GRAND JURY PRIZE
INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS (6 NOMINATIONS)
BEST FEATURE / BEST DIRECTOR / BEST FEMALE LEAD / BEST SUPPORTING MALE / FIRST SCREENPLAY / BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
NAACP IMAGE AWARD
NOMINATED: OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT MOTION PICTURE
WINNER: BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
NOMINATED: BEST FILM / BEST ENSEMBLE CAST / BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR
TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER: TFCA AWARD (BEST FIRST FEATURE)
BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL
NOMINATED: GOLDEN BEAR AWARD (BEST FEATURE FILM)
A double prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival and one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2008, Ballast is a stunningly evocative story of personal catastrophe and communal redemption. In the cold winter light of the Mississippi Delta, three lonely people stumble under the weight of a shared tragedy. Lawrence (Micheal J. Smith, Sr.) is paralyzed with grief after the loss of his twin brother. Twelve-year-old James (Jim Myron Ross) drifts into the perilous orbit of local teenagers while his single mother, Marlee (Tarra Riggs), is too exhausted from her menial job to interpret the clues. When sudden violence forces mother and son to flee their home in the night, they alight desperately on Lawrence s property. Though this provides safe harbor, it rekindles the fury of a bitter, longstanding conflict. Writer-director Lance Hammer and his gifted cast of local, non-professional actors have created an unflinching, profoundly humane story of lost souls forced by circumstance to seek solace in the most unlikely of places.
- Director supervised high-definition digital transfer from the 35mm interpositive.
- Ballast Scene Development - A 37-minute making-of feature charting the evolution of several scenes through the improvisational conflict sessions and two-month rehearsal process that gave form to the final film.
- Original theatrical trailer.
- Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.
- A new essay by film critic Amy Taubin.