Last week I volunteered to produce an interview with two women named Melissa Leo and Courtney Hunt. At that point, I knew it was about a movie and I knew the piece was scheduled to air on Friday. But I had lots of other more pressing productions to worry about so to the back burner of my brain it went. Before we had kids, my wife and I used to see movies at our local theater pretty frequently. That ended five years ago but this past Saturday, we got a sitter and treated ourselves to lunch and a movie. My wife insisted on seeing something called Frozen River, which I'd only vaguely heard about. It wasn't until the end of the movie, when I saw the names of the director and the star actress up on the screen, that I finally made the connection. Now I felt prepared to produce an interview and to write a blog entry. The movie is very well done and it's rightfully generating some Oscar buzz for Melissa Leo. She plays down-on-her-luck Ray Eddy, a mother of two living in EXTREME upstate New York. She has a part time job at a local dollar store, her husband has just left to gamble away their savings at "high-stakes" bingo, so now Ray desperately needs a few thousand dollars to complete the purchase of a new double-wide trailer for her family. By chance, she meets a Mohawk Indian named Lila Littlewolf, another financially desperate single mom who introduces her to the lucrative pastime of smuggling illegal immigrants from Canada into the United States. Lila tells Ray that the international border doesn't exist on the Mohawk reservation, which straddles the two countries, so the Chinese and Pakistani immigrants Ray and Lila carry in the trunk of their car across the frozen St. Lawrence River are just "free trade between nations." Along with the rest of the country, I had focused on America's border with Mexico, giving little thought to our much larger northern border. At the end of the interview, Bob asks first-time director Courtney Hunt what she's proudest of about the movie, which won the Grand Jury Prize for Drama at this year's Sundance Film Festival. She says that it's getting viewers to go along for the ride with these characters, to think about them, to acknowledge that they exist.
Here's the link to the official Frozen River website. You can see the movie's trailer, learn more about Courtney Hunt (who also wrote the screenplay), Melissa Leo and the rest of the cast and crew -- and find out if the movie is playing near you.