The final film from AIFF08 Lifetime Achievement honoree Albert Maysles, this love letter to American train travel takes us into the hearts and minds of passengers aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the busiest long-distance train route in the U.S. Unfolding as a series of interconnected vignettes, ranging from overheard conversations to moments of deep intimacy, it is a window into the lives of everyday people as they share their fears, hopes and dreams. In the space between stations, where “real life” is suspended, we are swept into a transitory community that transcends normal barriers. For the passengers, it is a place for personal reflection and connection with people they might otherwise never know.
Directors’ Statement: Albert Maysles, Lynn True, David Usui,
Nelson Walker, Ben Wu
A life-long admirer of trains, Albert Maysles
(1926-2015) had for decades dreamed of making a film that captured the stories that trains inspire. As he put it, “I wanted to make a film about trains, but really about the unity of humankind. Films can have the power of getting viewers to see themselves as they experience directlythe feelings, hopes, and problems of others.” Already 87 years old when production was to begin, and recognizing the challenge in making an observational film in a space as dynamic as a passenger train, Maysles invited filmmakers Lynn True and Nelson Walker to make the film with him. He watched the final cut the week before he passed away in March 2015, and when it ended, he simply looked up from the screen and said, “That’s good.”
Rescued by his mother, who takes him far away from his violent father, Daewit grows up among wolves. With help from a cat and an angel, he searches for his true identity. In this animated fable, Daewit encounters sad-ness and loss, and eventually, the peace that comes from forgiveness.
Director’s Statement: David Jansen
In the development of the story I had one picture in mind — a small island where one family lives, surrounded by the rough sea. A place that combines all factors, where the smallest possible society (a family) has to face the elementary challenges of being alone. At first glance, nature is an idyll, but can also be, like the nature of human beings, full of violence. The style of Daewit is based on old wood cut pictures, especially those of the Belgian artist Frans Masereel.