A big win for a Chicago feature film to jumpstart its festival run. Nashville Film Festival announced today Jack Newell’s MONUMENTS has won the coveted Audience Award for U.S. Independent Feature.
Developed, funded, and produced locally in Chicago, MONUMENTS will ride this win into the prestigious Heartland Film Festival, running through the 18th.
“MONUMENTS is incredibly timely,” Newell told SCREEN. “It’s a story about a man coming to terms with the loss of his wife – his love – and the journey of grief. Obviously, when we made this film we didn’t know what was going to happen to all of us in 2020, but that being said, we’ve made a film that really speaks to the collective trauma and grief that we’ve all experienced over the last year. It does it in an authentic and uplifting way.”
Newell wrote and directed the film, and produced the feature alongside Independent Film Alliance Chicago (IFA) Co-Founder Angie Gaffney. “To me, it was the first time where I was with the script from the very, very beginning,” Gaffney told SCREEN. “Working alongside Jack for three or four years now has been an incredibly creative, collaborative process. Using my creative voice as a producer – rather than just my production skills – has changed the way I approach my involvement in projects.”
Meet Ted and Laura
MONUMENTS centers on Ted and Laura, played by PRIMER star David Sullivan and Marguerite Moreau of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, at a precarious stage of their marriage when Laura is killed in a car accident. Paralyzed with grief, Ted is literally unable to let her go, carrying her ashes around under his arm. When he is visited by her ghost, who tells him to go against her family’s wishes and scatter her ashes a thousand miles away, at The Field Museum in Chicago. Unfortunately, with Laura’s family in pursuit, led by Ted’s nemesis, who goes by the name Howl (played by HAMILTON star Javier Muñoz), it won’t be that easy.
“Ted doesn’t really appreciate what he’s got until it’s gone,” Newell explained to SCREEN. “He’s just living his life when tragedy strikes – what’s beautiful about this film and Ted’s character is that he gets to do the things that we all wish we could do when we lose someone, or the world changes on us – we get to fix it.”
MONUMENTS was shot in Chicago and Boulder, Colorado in October of 2018, with support from Chicago Media Angels. Executive Producers include Charles Leslie and Ed Toolis. “It was a very ambitious production for our budget size, and thanks to our incredible cast and crew, we were able to pull it off,” Gaffney told SCREEN. “I’m endlessly grateful for their dedication and long hours.”
Busy Month Ahead for MONUMENTS
MONUMENTS will follow up its tours at the Nashville and Heartland Film Festivals with a trip to the Denver Film Festival October 22 thru November 8th, then off to the Lone Star State for the Victoria, TX Film Festival October 22-25, returning to Illinois for the Lake County Film Festival November 4-16.
Here is a quick look at the full lineup of the recently wrapped Nashville Film Festival:
Newell concluded, “We set out to make a film that felt a bit more timeless, it’s a unique take on a tragic event, and so it’s funny because by trying to make something that can last forever, we’ve actually made something that’s perfect for right now.”