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Interview with Jason Ruscio

Jason Ruscio won the Excellence in Filmmaking Award while a student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He has since relocated to LA where he works as a screenwriter and director of film, theater and music videos. His second feature Laura Smiles premiered at Tribeca and two years later is finally getting its theatrical release.

Tribeca: What has been happening to you and your film Laura Smiles since the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival?

Jason Ruscio: It has been a long and winding road for the film since her premiere at Tribeca. There have been many wonderful festival moments, including Munich, the Hamptons, and victories at both Denver and Vail. But the distribution journey has been a more complicated one. At last, however, we have landed in the hands of a theatrical distributor -- Emerging Pictures -- that has handled Laura Smiles with great confidence and care. The whole team is really looking forward to our release in New York this Friday.

What was particularly compelling to you about this story line - did you have personal ties?

Personal ties? I guess you could say that. Not only was this story an attempt to explore my failed marriage, but the brilliant actress in the lead role, Petra Wright, was my ex-wife. This was our second film collaboration, but the first where she played things from my perspective. Why did I ask her do this? Simply put, there was no other human being, or actor, I would have trusted with this journey.

It is such an intimate portrait of a woman's life and personal struggles. Was that intimacy something you set out to capture, or did it happen through the process of making the film?

I suppose intimacy is something I've always set out to capture with my films. It begins with the screenplay, but once the camera starts rolling, if that intimacy is to translate, it requires moments in close-up that are as compelling and soulful as those Petra can deliver with such consistency.

What are you thoughts about the direction in which independent film is heading these days? Is there room for movies as pensive and patient as Laura Smiles?

I must concede, I don't think much about the present course of independent film. I want to believe that good films will eventually find their audience, and people will always clamor for quality and authenticity in the movies they pay to see. It then becomes the filmmaker's responsibility to provide that quality and authenticity.

As for pensive and patient ... I think film audiences are hungry for it.

What are you working on now?

I'm half-way through a new script (Petra again in the lead), and have several un-produced screenplays that I'm working to get off the ground. I just need to call "action" soon!

» More About Laura Smiles

» Find Tickets at Cinema Village East

» Read More Interviews

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