‘Future Weather’ leads to a storm of praise

A guest at this year’s Haifa Film Festival, director Jenny Deller talks to the ‘Post’about her coming-of-age story about a young girl whose love for science helps her deal with a rough childhood.

filmmaker Jenny Deller 370 (photo credit: Gustavo Hochman)
filmmaker Jenny Deller 370
(photo credit: Gustavo Hochman)
It’s rare to spend much time at a film festival talking about science, especially when you’re speaking with the director of a feature film. But the subject comes up naturally with Jenny Deller, the director and writer of the film Future Weather, who is a guest at the 29th Haifa International Film Festival, which runs until September 28.
“Science is a way of organizing the world and bringing order to chaos,” says Deller. “I’ve always been interested in it and it was natural for me to create a character with this same interest.”
Future Weather, which tells the story of a 13-year-old girl whose passion for research into global warming sustains her when her mother runs off to California and leaves her behind, will be shown on September 27 at 7:30 p.m.
The film features a star-making performance by the young actress Perla Haney-Jardine, who got her start as Uma Thurman’s daughter in Kill Bill. It also has wonderful performances by several other strong actresses, including Lili Taylor as the science teacher who encourages the thoughtful teen, Amy Madigan as her no-nonsense grandmother and Marin Ireland, best known for a small but key role in Homeland, as her irresponsible mother.
“This girl doesn’t know where her mother is, but she’s reading an article in The New Yorker about climate change and she’s overwhelmed with anxiety over that,” explains Deller.
The delicate, soft-spoken Deller began her career as an actress and moved to New York from suburban Illinois, but soon became interested in directing and made several short films.
The idea for Future Weather came to her “when I was 30, and I was struggling with the idea of having a child. I wondered whether I could balance having kids with a career as a filmmaker. And I wanted to tell a mother-daughter story.
I just had this idea of a girl who gets a postcard from the mother who has abandoned her and she takes refuge in science, in her research.”
While Future Weather is not autobiographical – Deller was raised by a mother who is a nurse and a father who is a ceramicist – “the story has emotional truth.”
The story resonated with many viewers. Deller says she gets “a lot of feedback from people who say, ‘I lived that experience, I was abandoned,’ and ‘science was so meaningful to me, it pulled me out of a difficult time.’” Her experiences as an actress also led Deller to want to create a story with meaty roles for actresses and she was lucky enough to cast Oscar nominee Madigan and Independent Spirit Best Actress winner Taylor – two of the most critically acclaimed actresses in the American indie cinema world – in her first film.
“It took a lot of chutzpah to approach Amy Madigan, but I got in touch with her agent,” says Deller.
“Lili Taylor had always been a hero of mine and I managed to reach her when she was a judge at the Nantucket Film Festival.”
Future Weather eventually received the Showtime Tony Cox Award for Best Screenplay at that festival and went on to be shown at the Tribeca and Seattle Film Festivals, among many others.
While Future Weather was released in the US last year to rave reviews and Deller has traveled the world taking it to festivals, she is pleased to report that she is now at work on her second feature.
“It’s a psychological thriller about an epidemic where teenage girls develop a mysterious tic. It’s about some kind of environmental syndrome and it will be set in a small town,” she says.
“I’ve had a laser focus on Future Weather for seven years. It’s been amazing but it’s also great to work on something new.”
Deller’s future project sounds like the perfect antidote to the many inane portrayals of female teens on the big screen, with just enough scientific grounding to give it suspense and menace.
To order tickets to Future Weather, go to the Haifa festival website at http://www.haifaff.co.il/eng