THE TALE chronicles one woman’s powerful investigation into her own childhood memories, as she is forced to reexamine her first sexual experience – and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. Debuting at the Durban International Film Festival, the film will screen on SATURDAY, JULY 21st at 2:00pm (Suncoast CineCentre) and MONDAY, JULY 23rd at 4:00pm (Ster-Kinekor Musgrave) with a hosted reception and outreach activities supported by the United States Consulate General in Durban. Set to release on South African pay TV, Electronic Media Network (M-NET) on M-Net Movies Premiere channel 104 at 10:00pm during the Woman’s Month celebration on 6th August, the HBO Films presentation is written and directed by Sundance Grand Prize winner and Emmy® nominee Jennifer Fox, based on her own true story.
Special invite-only screenings will take place in Johannesburg on Monday, July 16th at 6:00pm (Killarney CineCentre), as well as, Cape Town on Tuesday, July 24th at 6:00pm (The Labia Theater) and Wednesday, July 25th at 10am (American Corner Cape Town in Central Library) supported by the United States Consulate General in Cape Town. With director in attendance, these screenings will be followed by an in-depth panel discussion with locally-based NGOs, activists, health and legal practitioners, as well as survivors of sexual trauma.
THE TALE stars Laura Dern (Oscar® nominee for “Wild” and “Rambling Rose”; Emmy® winner for HBO’s “Big Little Lies”; Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “Enlightened,” “Recount” and “Afterburn”), Isabelle Nélisse (“Mama”), Elizabeth Debicki (“The Night Manager”), Jason Ritter (“Kevin (Probably) Saves the World”), Frances Conroy (Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “Six Feet Under”) and John Heard (Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “The Sopranos”), with Common (Oscar® winner for “Selma”) and Ellen Burstyn (Academy Award® winner for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”).
An accomplished documentarian working in New York, Jennifer (Laura Dern) is completing her latest project about the lives of women around the world. She receives a series of phone calls from her mother, Nettie (Ellen Burstyn), who has found a short story Jennifer wrote at age 13, in which she describes various encounters with her riding instructor, Mrs. G (Elizabeth Debicki), and her running coach, Bill (Jason Ritter), while at summer camp. Nettie is unnerved by the implications of her daughter’s writing, but Jennifer is nonplussed. She has always looked back with fondness on the time she spent with these two charismatic adults.
Egged on by Nettie and encouraged by her supportive fiancé (Common), Jennifer yearns to know more and sets out on a journey, 30 years later, to find those people from her past – the children, now adults, who also attended the camp back then – and eventually the coaches themselves. But the more she learns, the more her memories shift and the more questions she unearths. As Jennifer’s frustration mounts, she finds herself turning inward to get to the truth, imagining conversations with her 13-year-old self (Isabelle Nélisse) and even Mrs. G and Bill in an effort to understand how and why events occurred so long ago.
An unforgettable meditation on the elusive nature of memory, THE TALE is the first narrative feature from Jennifer Fox, whose documentary films have earned international acclaim for their groundbreaking artistry and unflinching honesty. Based on Fox’s own life story, THE TALE sees the filmmaker bravely pushing forward the boundaries of conventional storytelling, creating a dialogue between past and present to illustrate the interplay between memory and trauma.
“My goal was not to ask, ‘Did this happen?,’ because I always remembered it,” explains writer and director Fox. “It was, ‘How and why did it happen, and how and why did I spin it as a positive story?’ There was a lightbulb moment when I was making another film about women all around the world, and it seemed that every other woman – regardless of class, culture or color – had an abuse story to tell. Their stories just floored me, because they had a system or a paradigm.
Fox has spent considerable time in South Africa, first as a trainer/advisor on the series STEPS FOR THE FUTURE reflecting the real life stories of people affected by the HIV Pandemic in Southern Africa, and afterwards running the training and development initiative for the thirteen film SABC series, PROJECT 10: REAL STORIES FROM A FREE SOUTH AFRICA. According to outreach impact producers for South Africa, Bridget Pickering and Adetoro Makinde of Hyphenate Partners, “Jennifer has expressed a deep interest and affection for presenting this courageous film to the region. With global movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp; and the most recent launch of the #MiniMeToo campaign by the Women and Men Against Child Abuse organization in South Africa, we believed this film can be a gateway to a much-needed conversation in South Africa and other parts of the world.”
THE TALE is produced by Jennifer Fox, Oren Moverman, Laura Rister, Mynette Louie, Simone Pero, Lawrence Inglee, Sol Bondy, Regina K. Scully, Lynda Weinman and Reka Posta. Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, Wendy Ettinger, Abigail E. Disney, Robert & Penny Fox, Jayme Lemons, Amy Rodrigue, Ali Jazayeri, Jason Van Eman, David Van Eman, Ross Marroso and Ben McConley are executive producers.
Starring Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Ritter, Frances Conroy And John Heard, With Common And Ellen Burstyn