The Lesser Blessed

The Lesser Blessed

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Based on the Book by:
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* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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The Lesser Blessed (2012/2013)

Opened: 06/07/2013 Limited

Downtown Ind.06/07/2013 - 06/13/20137 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: Canadian Drama

Rated: R for drug and alcohol use, violence, language and sexual content - all involving teens.

You can't have a future until you stand up to your past.

The Lesser Blessed is a powerful coming-of-age story of three unlikely friends isolated in a small town discovering life and love, with a dark past that threatening to unravel their fragile life.


Premiered to critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and based on the celebrated novel by Richard Van Camp, The Lesser Blessed is an eye-opening depiction of what it is like to be a vulnerable teenager in today's modern world. Through the eyes of Larry Sole, a First Nation teenager filled with bravado and angst, fragile and yet angry, seeking clarity clouded by confusion, seeking to belong without belonging, comes the story of three unlikely friends isolated in a small rural town discovering what they can of life and love amid racial tensions and the recklessness of youth, in a world clouded by a dark mystery from his past.

Director's Statement

I was born in a small, working class town in the USSR. I went to a school where I was the only Jew and once I got into a fistfight with a classmate who blamed me for killing Jesus. I bled, I screamed, I burned. I punched him in the fucking nose. To escape, my friends and I listened to heavy metal. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Black Sabbath - that was our music and our identity. In fact, metal was the only western music seeping through the Iron Gates. Why? One, because metal always traveled in underground channels of distribution and two, because metal appealed to the Soviet kid. Fast and trashy guitar solos, bone-dense base and sonic power vocals made up the anthems for the working class, the poor, the damaged and the dismantled. That was the music of our blood. We were headbangers.

Hard cut to present time Canada. My friend Shelley Niro, who is a visual artist and filmmaker of Mohawk heritage hands me a book called The Lesser Blessed and tells me that she believes I am the one meant to make this killer novel into a killer film. Why? Because she knows I'll respond to it with sickened adoration and that I will see myself in the young, romantic protagonist.

I read the book and came across one of the freshest, most exciting fictional characters. Larry Sole is raw, wry and hilarious. He is messed up yet poetic, all the while learning to be hopeful. He is a headbanger outcast in a small, working class town coming to terms with his past so that he can step into his future. I'm not Native. I've never lived in the North. But I understood Larry and his story to my most profound core.

If you wonder how a white girl dare make a film about a male Native kid, this is my answer: The Lesser Blessed is a film about an angry, passionate, romantic teenager. His journey is specific and authentic to the North, but his raw emotions are universal.

It gives me great joy to capture what it means to be a teenager in this world. This is the time when identity is just beginning to take shape and everything is incredibly fragile and meaningful. Every moment is a drama. Every moment is a film, set to a heavy metal soundtrack.

-- Anita Doron, Writer/Director

Cast Biographies

Joel Evans (Larry Sole)

Joel Evans was born and raised in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, a small town eight hours from Yellowknife with a population of about 2400. Fort Smith is the hometown of novelist Richard Van Camp, writer of The Lesser Blessed, so finding Larry there was especially ideal. During casting sessions throughout five towns in the Northwest Territories, director Anita Doron spotted Joel in the hallway of P.W. Kaeser High School and knew he was the one. Only 16 years old, Joel's earnest and powerful audition won everyone over and earned him the lead role in this Native coming-of-age tale.

Joel fills much of his leisure time with sports and, like most northerners, Joel loves hockey and plays in the key position of goalie in the Midget Division, as well as for a Men's Recreational Hockey Team (Wallys). He also excels at volleyball. Joel is an avid reader of fiction and loves to read books by Steven Erikson, Robert Jordan and a variety of others. He does not have a favorite school subject, but says all the teachers at PWK are great. His favourite movies: In Bruges, Snatch, Inglorious Basterds.

Benjamin Bratt (Jed)

For more than 20 years, actor Benjamin Bratt's career has successfully spanned film and television. In Fall 2011, Bratt joined the hit ABC primetime series "Private Practice" as a series regular in the role of "Dr. Jake Reilly."

Bratt's distinguished film career includes the critically acclaimed films Pinero, for which he was lauded for a striking, haunting, and "career defining" performance of the poet-playwright-actor Miguel Pinero; Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, which received five Academy Award® nominations and a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Ensemble Cast; and The Woodsman, a festival and critical favorite starring Kevin Bacon. He made his fourth appearance at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival as an actor (The Woodsman, Thumbsucker, Follow Me Home), and his second as a producer with the film La Mission.

Television audiences perhaps best recognize Bratt from his award-winning role of "Detective Rey Curtis" on NBC's long-running drama "Law & Order." Throughout his tenure on the show, he and the cast won an Emmy for Best Drama Series, while he garnered an Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actor, won two ALMA Awards, a SAG Award nomination with his cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and an NCLR Bravo Award nomination. Bratt starred in the hit A&E miniseries "The Andromeda Strain," from Ridley and Tony Scott, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, which was the number one original movie or miniseries of 2008 and garnered seven Emmy nominations. Additionally, he served as the series lead and producer on the A&E drama "The Cleaner," for which he received a 2009 ALMA Award for his performance as extreme interventionist "William Banks."

A veteran of over 25 films, Bratt's other work of note includes Curtis Hansen's The River Wild opposite Meryl Streep; Blood In, Blood Out for director Taylor Hackford; Clear and Present Danger starring Harrison Ford; Stephen Gaghan's directorial debut Abandon opposite Katie Holmes; the World War II drama The Great Raid for Miramax Films; the beloved comedy Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock,

for which he won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award; and the theatrical adaption of the acclaimed novel by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, co-starring Javier Bardem.

In La Mission, Bratt re-teamed with his writer/director/producer brother, Peter Bratt (Follow Me Home) to star in and produce a story that recalls the culture, people, and beliefs of their childhood in the Mission district of San Francisco. La Mission received its theatrical release in April 2010 to overwhelming audience support. An independently distributed film with a limited release platform, La Mission remarkably remained in theaters for over 4 months, achieved over $1 million in box office gross and received multiple Imagen Awards, including two awards for Bratt with Best Picture and Best Actor, a GLAAD nomination and a NAACP nomination.

Kiowa Gordon (Johnny Beck)

Kiowa Gordon is the seventh of eight children, and was born in Berlin, Germany. At age one, his family moved back to McLean, Virginia, where his father worked for the government. At age two, the family moved to the Hualapai Indian reservation in Northern Arizona for the children to learn their heritage and culture. Gordon has spent most of his life in Arizona, where he attended Hermosa Vista, Stapley Jr. High, and Mountain View High School before moving to Cave Creek with his mother and attending Cactus Shadows High School. While living in Cave Creek, Gordon met fellow resident Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight books, who encouraged him to try out for The Twilight Saga (he co-stars in all three stories)

Kiowa auditioned at an open casting call for all Native American teens in Phoenix with California-based casting director Rene Haynes. Gordon gave a great audition and he was offered the role of Embry, after he tried out for the part of Paul. Gordon and some of his fellow The Twilight Saga cast members have been heavily involved in the Twilight Conventions all over the country. He recently returned from attending the Quileute Days celebration in La Push, Washington, where he mentored the youth of the community and signed autographs with the tribal leaders.

He has two film projects upcoming: The Projectionist and Into the Darkness.

Chloe Rose (Juliet Hope)

A rising star, Chloe Rose is only 19 years old and already making waves in both film and television. Her first television role is as a series regular on the hit series "Degrassi: The Next Generation" an incredible learning ground for an aspiring young actor. She followed up with a guest-starring role on the hit summer series for Global and ABC "Rookie Blue." Chloe attended The Etobicoke School for the Arts.

Adam Butcher (Darcy McManus)

Born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario, Adam Butcher began his acting career in 2001 when he won the lead role as 11-year-old Rupert Patterson in the YTV series "Super Rupert." He next played a supporting role in the Paramount Television movie "The Pentagon Papers," starring James Spader and Alan Arkin, before making his feature debut in the award-winning film Saint Ralph, which garnered him a Genie Award nomination and Young Artist Award nomination for Best Actor in a Feature Film. In 2004, he was chosen by Inside Entertainment Magazine as one of the '10 to watch at the Toronto Film Festival' and TV Guide named him one of the 10 Canadian superstars of the future.

Soon after, Butcher joined the Canadian cast of The Movie Network's new series "Terminal City" and since then has appeared in numerous television productions such as: "Terry," "Heyday," "Regenesis II," "Angela's Eyes," "Across the River to Motor City," "Life with Derek," "Overruled!," "Flashpoint," "The Bridge," "Unnatural History," "Republic of Doyle," "Falling Skies," "Combat Hospital," "The Listener," and the highly acclaimed "Bomb Girls."

Butcher's feature film credits include the starring role in Privileged, directed by Jonah Salander and the lead in the independent film The Bend. He also had a co-starring role in the Sci Fi feature Hellhounds directed by Rick Schroeder and the starring role of Butch in the Tribeca Film Festival winning film Dog Pound.

Tamara Podemski (Verna Sole)

Tamara Ceshia Podemski is a multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate of the Claude Watson School for the Performing Arts in Toronto, where she studied theatre, dance and music throughout its 10-year program.? At fifteen, Tamara landed her first film role in Bruce McDonald's Dance Me Outside. The rest of her teenage years found her growing up on Canadian television. Her twenties brought her to Broadway to star as Maureen in Rent. With her new-found voice, Tamara launched her career as a singer/songwriter, releasing three albums in five years, and starting her own record label, Mukwa Music. After 15 years of TV, theatre, and the recording studio, Tamara returned to the big screen in Sterlin Harjo's Four Sheets to the Wind, making history as the first Canadian actress and first Native American to win a Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival. That same role later won her a Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Since the beginning, Tamara has worked with her actress sisters, Jennifer and Sarah, producing, writing and facilitating multi-media workshops for Native Youth. She has traveled all over the world with them, and solo, promoting education, cultural awareness and self-empowerment through the arts.

Crew Biographies

Anita Doron (Director)

Anita Doron was born in Transcarpathia of the former USSR - a little known land of nomadic ghosts, barley mush and apricot brandy. She was one of the youngest published poets of the country and grew up in a family of high altitude mountaineers. At age 12, Anita's first film - an environmental protest piece - raised the ire of the Soviet bureaucracy who attempted to sabotage the process.

A decade later, following an illegal escape from the USSR, Anita's short films ("Not a Fish Story" and "Elliot Smelliot") premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and had a successful television run, as well as a Banff Rockie Award nomination. Her first feature, "The End of Silence" starring Sarah Harmer, won several international awards in 2006 and is distributed by Mongrel Media as part of the prestigious Festival Collection.

Anita was one of three directors on "Late Fragment", North America's first interactive feature film and the official selection of TIFF and SXSW 2008. Anita directs music videos through 235 Films and has recently shot and co-directed a CBC documentary with Veronica Tennant about Judith Thomson and the unique play "Body and Soul". She has written, shot and directed short documentaries about musicians in Toronto for CitySonic and AUX, along with directors Bruce McDonald, George Vale and Peter Lynch. Her short animated film on Tony Dekker/Great Lake Swimmers premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Anita is a recipient of a 2010 TED Fellowship.

About the Company

monterey media inc., incorporated in 1979, is a privately owned entertainment company. monterey media is actively engaged in all areas of domestic media, including theatrical distribution, film festivals, and other distinctive venues, television, digital delivery and home entertainment markets.

The Company is known for creating unique and distinctive release strategies tailored to each project. By way of example, in 2005, the Company established a joint venture for the creation of a special theatrical event in conjunction with AMC Theatres to launch the motion picture Indigo: A one day, 603 North America venue showing grossed over $1,190,000 box office. Recently, monterey media films have been nominated for a Golden Globe Award, Independent Spirit Award, and NAACP Image Award. Many of our films have premiered at Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, and SXSW Film Festivals.

Summer 2011 saw monterey media films on over 100 screens with the acclaimed Monte Hellman Road to Nowhere hailed as "A Certifiable Masterpiece" by Film Comment with it's premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; Small Town Murder Songs which premiered at TIFF; and the New York Times Critics' Pick Harvest. Upcoming, among others, is Famke Janssen's directorial debut Bringing Up Bobby starring Milla Jovovich, Bill Pullman and Marcia Cross, and Guy Maddin's acclaimed Keyhole, premiering at TIFF, Berlin and SXSW starring Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier.

In 2010, the Company completed a 50 city release including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas for the acclaimed Trucker starring Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Fillion and Benjamin Bratt (chosen by Roger Ebert as one of the ten best independent films of 2009). For Endgame, from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival starring Academy Award winner William Hurt, monterey created a theatrical release in 30 cities (even after a PBS airing) garnering a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination for co-star Chiwetel Ejifor. The action/adventure/romance The Red Baron starring Joseph Fiennes and Lena Headey launched in Los Angeles at Mann's Chinese on as well as Phoenix, Detroit, San Diego, Portland, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Jacksonville, Louisville and others, while Lovely, Still starring Academy Award Winners Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn opened 45 cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Detroit, Philadelphia, Ft. Lauderdale, Denver and San Diego.

The philosophy of doing good while doing well is practically a mantra at monterey media, and in addition to its ritual support of charitable organizations the company has developed a program entitled A Weekend of Unity & Peace. Last year's feature film was Turk Pipkin's One Peace at a Time, with music by Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Jack Johnson.

monterey is known for its creatively coordinated marketing strategies incorporating promotional alliances with such strategic partners as Wal-Mart, Fisher Price, Pepsi Cola, American Express, Amnesty International USA, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, Children's Cancer Research Fund, Patagonia, Body Glove, KIDS FIRST!, Days Inns, Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace, the International Motorcycle Shows and Healthy World Healthy Child and Air Pacific.