Winner of the NEXT Section’s Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Chad Hartigan’s moving second feature has an air of simplicity but proves a subtle meditation on friendship, faith and human connection.
In his fifties, Martin Bonner leaves his old life behind and relocates to Reno, where he finds work for a church-based program that helps released prisoners transition to life on the outside. Divorced with two adult children, he tries speed dating and passes time as a soccer referee on weekends. Meanwhile Travis Holloway has just been released from a 12-year prison stint. His program mentor, Steve, is charitable and helps him adjust, but Travis finds Steve’s Christian devotion uncomfortable and reaches out to Martin instead. The two men form an unlikely friendship that offers them unspoken support and understanding.
In this quietly observational film, Hartigan affects naturalism but hints at unnerving disquietude as both Martin and Travis struggle in an unfamiliar place — looking for a second chance at life. The storytelling is intimate, witty and personal, while Paul Eenhoorn (as Martin) and Richmond Arquette (as Travis) offer standout performances, approaching their characters with a low-key restraint that evokes the awkwardness of starting life afresh, well into middle age.
As part of the New American Filmmakers program designed to highlight the contributions of immigrants to American cinema, THIS IS MARTIN BONNER director Chad Hartigan will be in attendance for a special post-screening Q&A with audience members.
Click here for more information on the NAF program and the 2013 New American Filmmakers.
Chad Hartigan was born in Nicosia, Cyprus and attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking. He wrote and directed his first feature, LUKE AND BRIE ARE ON A FIRST DATE in 2008, which premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival and went on to spawn a Latin American remake in 2013 called LUNA EN LEO. THIS IS MARTIN BONNER is his second feature.
Synopsis written by: John Nien, Sundance