"Shot in silvery black-and-white by writer-directors S. Cagney Gentry and Thom Southerland, Fort Maria is what the filmmakers call "an unscripted filmic experiment" — a description that might suggest something arch or humorless. But it's neither, avoiding heavy-handed artifice and narrative cliche and finding the tenderness, fire and everyday absurdity beneath its contained-verging-on-deadpan surface." -- The Hollywood Reporter
"[P]owerful and surprising...full of essential human moments and authentic considerations of race, culture, love, and what truly makes up a family." -- Ashland Independent Film Festival
Maria is a woman with no country. A Bulgarian immigrant and adoptive mother of a black daughter, she finds herself suddenly stricken with agoraphobia following a break-in at her home in Kentucky. When her daughter’s aging dog dies, Maria’s confinement puts her into equally painful and funny situations that soon entangle her neighbors.
As Maria copes with the issues that have led her - a world traveler - into her self-inflicted prison, her daughter Meredith discovers her own identity through a search for her biological family.
Fort Maria is an unscripted filmic experiment. As co-directors, we worked together to tell a story about the interconnectedness of four very different women in the American South.
The genesis of the film came from our desire to work together after meeting on the film festival circuit. Collaborating with Katerina Stoykova again (lead actress from Proud Citizen) was also integral to the filmmaking process.
In order to depict characters who defy typical Southern movie stereotypes, and to capture the spontaneous, organic messiness (and tangential humor) of real life, we considered it essential to give our four female collaborators free reign to work unscripted.
We hope this fidelity to the complexity of women’s voices helps tell a compelling narrative, and gives Fort Maria an authenticity as it touches on its themes of mental illness, identity and race.
–Thomas Southerland & S. Cagney Gentry
**Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature & Best Cinematography – Gerald Hirschfeld Award**
**Jury Prize for Best Director**