Robert Edwards
Friday June 16, 2006
US THEATRICAL RELEASE
New York City, LIMITED ENGAGEMENT ONLY!

AMC Loews Village 7 (66 3rd Ave at 11th Street)
AMC Empire 25 (Times Square, 234 W 42rd Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
July 2006
Jerusalem Film Festival and Munich Film Festival


– Tribeca Film Festival, US Premiere, May 1, 2006
– Human Rights Watch International Film
    Festival, London
, March 2006 (UK Premiere)
– International Film Festival Rotterdam,
   Jan-Feb 2006 (World Premiere)

  writer/director  

Robert Edwards is an American filmmaker based in New York City. LAND OF THE BLIND, his feature debut, starring Ralph Fiennes and Donald Sutherland, will be released in theaters in NYC on June 16, with other US cities to follow. The film recently had its US Premiere in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City in May 2006, following its World Premiere in the VPRO Tiger Competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January. The film's UK Premiere was as the Opening Night Benefit Gala at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, London in March.

Edwards's screenplay for LAND OF THE BLIND, his first scriptwriting effort, won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2001. His screenplay TRUST is currently in pre-production, to be produced by Michael London and directed by Neil Labute.

/ Press Release
/ selection of images to download [print quality]
 
Robert (right) with Ralph Fiennes


with Donald Sutherland

with editor/2d unit director and wife Ferne Pearlstein (at camera)


with Ralph Fiennes (in orange suit) and Cory McAbee

with cinematographer Emmanuel Kadosh

 
with Donald Sutherland

with Tom Hollander

with cinematographer Manu Kadosh

 

Background

Edwards was born in 1963 in Bad Kreuznach, Germany where his father was an American soldier and his mother an American schoolteacher for the U.S. forces. Raised on and around Army posts across the U.S., he himself served for more than six years as an infantry and intelligence officer, and during the first Gulf war was a captain in the 504 th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Iraq. After leaving the service in 1992, Edwards worked variously as a telemarketer, nightclub doorman, and private detective before landing in Stanford University's Graduate Program in Documentary Film. His 1996 MA thesis film, PARANOIA, inspired by a 1993 skydiving accident in which he broke his back, was shown at numerous film festivals around the world.

After graduating from Stanford, Edwards embarked on a career as a documentary filmmaker, editing projects such as IN SEARCH OF LAW AND ORDER: CATCHING THEM EARLY (1997), the concluding part in the documentary series on juvenile justice by Roger Graef, Michael Schwarz, and Ray Telles for PBS and Channel Four; YESTERDAY'S TOMORROWS (1999), directed by Barry Levinson, about how people in the past imagined the future, which aired nationally on Showtime and was part of a traveling exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution; and ABANDONED: THE BETRAYAL OF AMERICA'S IMMIGRANTS (2000), by David Belle, which won a DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award and was broadcast nationally on PBS.

In 1997 Edwards began work with producer Richard Berge on a feature documentary about the battle of the Ia Drang Valley, November 1965, one of the seminal battles of the Vietnam war, as documented in the book "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" by Lt. General (Ret.) Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway. (Edwards' father was a company commander at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang, where he was critically wounded.) Among the interview subjects was Rick Rescorla, a British-born veteran of three wars who had been a platoon leader in the battle, and who went on to become vice president for security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York. Edwards filmed the interview with Rescorla in July 1998 in Rick's office on the 44th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

The Ia Drang film was never finished due to fundraising problems. (To wit: lack of funds. The battle was subsequently the subject of the feature film "We Were Soldiers," starring Mel Gibson.) However, the interview with Mr. Rescorla re-surfaced after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, when Rescorla saved the lives of more than 2700 co-workers by calmly directing their evacuation—a procedure they had rehearsed, at his insistence, ever since the 1993 WTC bombing. As a result, only six Morgan Stanley employees died on September 11—among them Rescorla, who though safely outside, went back into the building to look for stragglers. Edwards edited the 1998 interview into THE VOICE OF THE PROPHET—an eight-minute short consisting solely of Rick speaking into the camera—that went on to screen at the Sundance, Toronto, and Human Rights Watch Film Festivals, among others, and has been excerpted on television around the world. (It can be viewed online at www.atomfilms.com/af/content/voice_prophet. Rick's story was also told in the February 11, 2002 issue of the New Yorker in an article by James B. Stewart, which was later expanded into a book, " The Real Heroes are Dead.")

In 1999 Edwards left California for New York and began working with filmmaker and cinematographer Ferne Pearlstein, whom he had first hired to shoot the interview that became "The Voice of the Prophet." Edwards and Pearlstein's first full-length collaboration was SUMO EAST AND WEST, a feature documentary about the culture clash between Japan and the West, viewed through the story of Americans in that ancient Japanese sport. Filmed in the continental U.S., Hawaii, and Japan, SUMO EAST AND WEST had its world premiere in May 2003 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, followed by numerous other festivals and nationwide broadcast on PBS, culminating in an outdoor screening on Waikiki Beach for an audience of 7000 at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

 

Land of the Blind

While editing SUMO, Edwards sat down to write LAND OF THE BLIND, his first stab at screenwriting. A satiric political drama about terrorism, assassination, and the power of memory, the film is set in an unnamed place and time, where an idealistic soldier named Joe (Ralph Fiennes) strikes up an illicit friendship with a political prisoner named Thorne (Donald Sutherland). Through their conversations in the high-security military prison where Thorne is held, Joe slowly begins to question his allegiance to the country's brutal but clownish dictator and his Machiavellian wife. Eventually Thorne succeeds in recruiting Joe to the rebel cause, leading to a bloody coup d'etat with echoes of countless tyrannies, revolutions, and counter-revolutions throughout history. But in the post-revolutionary world, what Thorne asks of Joe leads the two men into bitter conflict, spiraling downward into madness until Joe's co-conspirators conclude that they must erase him from history.

Ralph Fiennes was the first actor to read the script, and signed on in July 2002. Fiennes' willingness to do a politically provocative independent movie about such challenging subject matter, with a first-time director no less, indisputably jump-started the project. Edwards credits Fiennes' unwavering commitment as the key factor sustaining the development of LAND OF THE BLIND through more than two years of false starts, scheduling conflicts, vanishing funders, and dashed hopes before Philippe Martinez of London-based Lucky 7 Productions and Bauer Martinez Distribution bravely stepped forward to finance the film in October 2004.

Edwards and Pearlstein (by now married) re-located to London for more than a year to make the film, which Pearlstein edited, and which was shot by the immensely gifted Israeli cinematographer Emmanuel Kadosh (who had just completed Andy Garcia's "Lost City," starring Garcia, Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray). Fiennes give a fearless and characteristically superb performance, squaring off against a brilliant Donald Sutherland in one of the most riveting performances in his long and illustrious career. The two men are complemented by outstanding work from the entire ensemble, most notably Tom Hollander, spectacularly turning on a dime from buffoonery to menace and back again as President-for-Life Maximilian II, and a startling Lara Flynn Boyle as the First Lady, channeling Eva Peron, Imelda Marcos, Marie Antoinette, and Lady Macbeth.
Music for the film was a eclectic collaboration between British composer Guy Farley (orchestral score) and American composer Doug Edwards (original songs).

Currently, Edwards is adapting the book THE BOMB IN MY GARDEN for Warner Brothers, Initial Entertainment Group, and Johnny Depp's production company Infinitum Nihil. "The Bomb in My Garden," co-written with journalist Kurt Pitzer, is the memoir of Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who until his escape from Iraq in 2003 had been the architect of Saddam Hussein's covert program to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Edwards' next project is another original screenplay, BURNING DAYLIGHT, which he will direct.

Representation: Scott Greenberg, Creative Artists Agency, 310-288-4545

     

Podcasts

On Friday, June 16th, at the New York opening of the film, podcaster Sanford Dickert came to interview me on aspects of "Land of the Blind" - how it got created, the many reviews and the evolution of going from being a documentarian to a fiction director. Feel free to listen to the podcasts below to learn more:

Each of the podcasts are 4-5 minutes long - feel free to listen and comment.

Introduction (mp3)
How To Make a Movie (mp3)
Responding to Reviews (mp3)
   
     

Links

Ferne Pearlstein
Doug Edwards
Nancy Edwards
Cory McAbee/Billy Nayer Show

   
       
    © 2006 Robert Edwards