ABOUT THE FILM

In this dark comedy of manners, the action of LAST WEEKEND unfolds over the course of a long Labor Day weekend at the end of the summer at Lake Tahoe, California.

Matriarch Celia Green (Patricia Clarkson) is at a crossroads. She and her husband, Malcolm (Chris Mulkey), are the founders of a fitness empire and among San Francisco’s wealthiest citizens. They have been coming to Lake Tahoe for more than thirty years, and yet Celia now feels that something in her life is missing.

She gathers her two adult sons (Zachary Booth and Joseph Cross) and their partners for a rare weekend together. As the holiday begins, Celia finds herself torn between the house—and the past that it represents—and her desire to move forward with her life.

As the weekend progresses and tensions rise, the four members of the Green family are joined by an eclectic assortment of houseguests and drop-ins, young and old.

On Saturday morning, an accident threatens to unhinge Celia’s meticulously devised weekend: the Greens’ longtime caretaker, Hector Castillo (Julio Oscar Mechoso), is electrocuted as he is fixing a broken light on the dock. When he is airlifted to a nearby hospital, the Green family goes along with him, and the guests on the property are forced to fend for themselves.

Amidst this catastrophe, Celia must decide whether she is ready to let go of the house. LAST WEEKEND is a film about the end of an era for a family—and the steps we must often take in order to create new beginnings.

ABOUT THE LOCATION

LAST WEEKEND was filmed at the historic 1929 Lake Tahoe estate that was the location of the 1951 Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift classic, A Place in the Sun, directed by George Stevens

Lake Tahoe, California, just four hours from San Francisco, is a popular Northern California vacation spot that is rarely explored in film. Though it has been called “the Hamptons of the West Coast” by publications such as W magazine, in its understated nature, it couldn’t be more different from that East Coast getaway. With its constant interplay between the manners and mores of new money and old, it is a milieu ripe for exploration.

Tom Williams Tom Dolby DirectorsPRODUCTION STORY

In 2010, longtime friends Tom Dolby and Tom Williams met up for coffee in New York to discuss their current projects. The two had gone to boarding school and college together, working together and collaborating on countless creative endeavors over the years. Williams had spent the last ten years working as a producer in the Hollywood film industry, while Dolby had been working as a novelist in New York.

Dolby told Williams about the latest novel he was writing—called Labor Day, it was to be a dark comedy of manners, focusing on a Northern California family and taking place at a Lake Tahoe estate very much like the one at which Dolby had spent his childhood summers.

Dolby had written 100 pages, focusing on a quirky character named Celia Green and her children and their houseguests. Williams suggested writing it as a screenplay instead, with the eventual plan of shooting it at Dolby’s parents’ house on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. Inspired by this idea, Dolby finished the first draft of the screenplay in just a few weeks.

After developing the script together, Dolby and Williams decided to co-direct, as both were intimately familiar with the world portrayed in the film. Williams approached his boss and mentor, Academy Award- winning producer Mark Johnson, to serve as executive producer; Johnson was immediately drawn to the story’s themes of family and home. Mike S. Ryan of Greyshack Films was enlisted to organize physical production, planning for a team of nearly 100 cast and crew members to descend upon Lake Tahoe, California to make the first feature film the area had seen in more than a decade.

Johnson’s Gran Via Productions attached acclaimed actress Patricia Clarkson to play Celia Green. Clarkson’s participation attracted up and coming independent film actors such as Zachary Booth, Joseph Cross, Devon Graye, and Alexia Rasmussen, as well as familiar faces from film and television such as Rutina Wesley, Jayma Mays, Fran Kranz, Mary Kay Place, Judith Light, and Chris Mulkey. The film went into production right after Labor Day, 2012, for a twenty-five day shoot.

tom-and-patriciaDIRECTORS’ STATEMENT

With LAST WEEKEND, our goals were simple: to tell a good story, to make people laugh, to move them. We loved traditional “weekend films,” from the quirkiness and spontaneity of Henry Jaglom’s Last Summer in the Hamptons to the tightly crafted emotional vignettes of Woody Allen’s September. Visually, we were influenced by the casual European feel of Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours as well as the frenetic exuberance of Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married.

Like many weekend films before it, LAST WEEKEND has always held Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard as a touchstone—we wanted to see the beauty in the everyday. Our mission was to tell a realistic and approachable story about small changes in our lives, changes that don’t always announce themselves with great fanfare. We all exist as different people throughout our lives, and our relationships ebb and flow with the seasons. Often this happens over years, but it can be noticed in a moment—or, as in our story, over the course of a Labor Day weekend, at a sprawling estate that starts to feel smaller and smaller as the hours pass.

We sought naturalistic performances from our actors, often asking them to improvise their way into a scene. Making the film felt very much like staying at a vacation house—and the cast and crew quickly became like family. As directors, we encouraged bonds to form between cast members, efforts that soon revealed themselves in their performances.

The historic 1930s house that Malcolm and Celia inhabit, a character unto itself, is meant to be a sanctuary from the stresses of the world. For the Greens and their entourage, though, it proves to be more like a crucible—once in the house, removed from the world, they can no longer hide from themselves. For Celia, who has poured as much of herself into the house as she has into her family, her history is on its walls, its shelves, its floors, reminding her of who she used to be, even as she’s still searching for herself now.

Even for an eccentric matriarch, it’s never too late to change. While it’s fine to commemorate the past, we truly define ourselves in the present. LAST WEEKEND is our homage to letting go, to that bittersweet realization that parenthood is the one job where success means that you have made yourself obsolete.

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Sundance selects GRAN VIA Productions Greyshack Films Waters End Productions

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