The closing night film for the Slamdance Film Festival is “This Teacher” about a French woman whose visit to the U.S. turns into a nightmare.
The film closes the festival at the Treasure Mountain Inn on Thursday, at 5:30.
The co-writer and director of the film, Mark Jackson, said that his central character, Hafsia, a French woman of Middle Eastern descent, travels to New York looking for answers.
“Hafsia is someone that’s never been out of her home country of France.” Jackson explained, “She’s arrived at quarter-life and is trying to understand things and decides like we often do to look to the past. So she reaches out to her childhood best friend and heads to New York City to see if there might be answers there for her.”
Actress Sarah Cazemy plays Sarah, who has become Americanized and isn’t much help to her old friend. Given that, she noted, Hafsia seeks refuge in rural upper New York state.
“The symbolism of going to nature and the woods where she’s going to be on her own, which she truly deeply yearns for is completely understandable.” Cazemy continues, “It’s quite scary too and challenging but she’s up for it. She doesn’t want to go back she wants to move forward.”
Jackson added “After a pleasant day spent in Central Park she’s wondering what she’s doing going from city to city. City of Paris to the city of New York and perhaps there’s answers for her in nature so she heads up state.”
Jackson said the film is both about the heroine’s inner journey, and her encounter with some resentful, bigoted U.S. citizens.
“Hafsia’s character is pushed to the brink” Jackson continued, “We are left to question what might happen in this very explosive situation in an enclosed cabin between three people that share very different views. As Hafsia goes on her journey, and I see it as something of a saint’s journey towards religious ecstasy, she does maintain a sense of levity. So even when confronted with the darkness of the couple and her bigotry. Her first reaction and her first instinct is to rely on humor, for herself because they’re not going to understand, to get her through it.”