NEW YORK - Family upheaval and environmental destruction mirror each other in the film Future Weather, a drama about three generations of women, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is now screening at other film festivals.
Set in a rural Midwestern community, the film tells the story of 13-year-old Lauduree, a young science student played by Perla Haney-Jardine. When her negligent mother abandons her, Lauduree tries to live on her own, but is forced to move in with her grandmother, Greta, leaving behind the plant experiments she’s been nurturing.
“What is so bad about coming to live with me?” asks Greta, played by Amy Madigan.
“I can’t leave my research,” Lauduree says.
“Lauduree, you are not a scientist! You are a minor, without a mother!” Greta responds impatiently.
Greta, an earthy, tough-minded woman who works as a nurse, is planning to move to Florida with a new suitor, and Lauduree doesn’t want to go.
Despite encouragement from her teacher, played by Lili Taylor, and a growing friendship with a classmate, Lauduree’s anxiety about the Earth’s prospects for survival and her own, only grow.
“What do you think the future’s going to look like, tropical paradise?” she yells in one scene.
“You think it’s going to be nice and warm? Hell, there’s not going to be any food! Welcome to my future.”
A New Yorker magazine story about global warming inspired the script, said writer-director Jenny Deller. Environmental issues, she said, “are about home. There was really an intuitive connection between this issue and this kid’s situation being abandoned. Her world was very shaken up. It was the equivalent of having an earthquake or some sort of natural disaster.”
Deller worked on the film for six years, raising funds through family and friends, and with grants for science-themed popular entertainment.
“Filmmakers get a lot of flak sometimes for being too political,” Deller said, “I think that comes from maybe trying to beat people over the head with a certain point of view, which I’m not really interested in doing as much as generating dialogue, getting people to think about something from a different perspective.”
She said that the human stories, like those she heard growing up in a largely working class community in rural Illinois, were what most interested her.
Lauduree’s grandmother Greta is a character who rarely appears on the screen. As Madigan describes her, “She’s an independent woman, a feisty woman, who makes her own money, has to take care of a lot of people, smokes a lot, drinks a few beers, and is kind of just going through her life. But she’s got a sense of humor, and she’s not a sentimental person, and I like that.”
Deller and Madigan said they think female audiences, in particular, are hungry to see women’s lives portrayed onscreen. Now in her 60s and best-known for her roles in Field of Dreams and Pollock, Madigan said that strong parts for older women actors are just as rare today as when she began.
“So, when you find something that has all these really great women’s roles, as written, and parts, I think it just compels you to do it, it’s really exciting,” she said.
Future Weather is screening next at the Nantucket Film Festival, off the coast of Massachusetts.