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A Light Beneath Their Feet
90 minutes
Director(s): Valerie Weiss
Sat 9:40 PM Ashland Street Cinema
Sun 3:40 PM Ashland Street Cinema
In a commanding performance, Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) plays Gloria, an Evanston mother wrestling with bipolar disorder and an imminent empty nest. Her loyal daughter Beth (Madison Davenport) is a bright Illinois high school student who’s been accepted to UCLA, but must now decide if she should stay near home and care for her unpredictable mom, or follow her own path out west. An endearing, unsettling, ultimately moving coming-of-age story that balances family obligation with personal aspirations. 

Director’s Statement: Valerie Weiss 

On the surface, A Light Beneath Their Feet is about a family struggling to cope with the mother’s bipolar disorder. However, I see it as a story more universally applicable to society at large: it is fundamentally a co-dependent love story that asks the question, “Is it okay to leave someone you love?” I empathize equally with the story’s mother and daughter, and want the audience to feel sandwiched between the push and pull of loving someone who both energizes and drains you. So often in films the portrayal of mentally ill characters is overblown and played to be sensational. That is not what I wanted from our film — it was imperative that Taryn Manning’s performance be subtle, nuanced, and most important — authentic. 

Screeners’ Choice: selected by AIFF’s amazing volunteer screeners
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