I am the father of a beautiful little girl. She is two years old. She drives me crazy sometimes, but then she smiles and says, “I love you!” and it’s impossible for your heart not to melt. Little children are precious, wonderful things, and so it is confounding when nearly every day the news brings a story of a child abused or abandoned or killed. It is terrible and it is horrifying and it is easy to lose hope in such an apparently cruel world.
But then there are the people who choose to do something about it, in whatever way they can. We can’t all be there personally for the children, but we can bring awareness to the issue. This is the raison d’etre behind the film “Mother’s Red Dress,” which has its Kentucky premiere at the upcoming Derby City Film Festival .
“Mother’s Red Dress” is the combined effort of producer John Paul Rice and director Edgar Michael Bravo, who are dedicated to making films which explore pressing social issues and bring them to the public eye. I had the privilege of meeting with both of them over Skype for a discussion on their new film and the mission behind their production company.
John is originally from Louisville. After snagging a small acting part in the film “Remember the Titans” he moved to Los Angeles in 2001 for an entry level job in film production. He worked for Mandate Pictures, which has produced films such as “Juno,” The Grudge,” and “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” There he learned about sales and distribution and other aspects of film production.
Edgar attended UCLA, where he received a Master’s degree in writing and directing. He became involved in television and independent features. He and John met and worked together and eventually formed No Restrictions Entertainment .
The first film they made with their new production company was “One Hour Fantasy Girl,” which is about a girl who sells a unique service: she will act out any man’s fantasy for an hour, as long as there is no sex and nothing illegal.
Their new film, “Mother’s Red Dress,” tells the story of a young man named Paul who, as a little boy, witnessed his mother kill her abusive boyfriend and then threatened to kill him (Paul). Now she is dying of cancer and wants him to come see her one last time.
The film deals with the realities of child abuse and the way it affects people as they grow up. It was inspired by those afore-mentioned constant news reports and the hope they have for those who go through it and survive. While the film is not based on any one particular true story, aspects of 10 or 15 actual cases were incorporated into the story to give it more of a basis in reality.
The reaction has been largely positive – the press release for the film even included a letter of endorsement from Dr. Charles Raison, who works in Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences: “I have never seen a film that so directly and movingly addresses the high price paid by the victims of childhood trauma. In fact, the script profoundly articulates truths increasingly uncovered by the types of scientific studies my research team conducts at Emory. More than this, the story is almost eerie in its ability to capture the many aspects of mental illness that arise from early life adversity that I confront every day as a psychiatrist.”
The layperson also comes away deeply affected. Says Edgar: “What I have seen is the enormous amount of empathy from people who don’t know anything about this world. It shatters the stereotypes of what people think about abuse or social issues. The compassion comes from wanting to help somebody else who is in need.” The ending of the film has apparently been generating some buzz. It “changes the entire meaning of the film,” says Edgar. “People talk about it for days after.”
No Restrictions Entertainment will continue to create films about pressing social issues. Their next film, “The Magic Stone,” deals with homelessness, and it is currently in post-production. Also in the future is a science-fiction story about teenage suicide.
“Mother’s Red Dress” plays at the Derby City Film Festival at 2:00 in the afternoon of Saturday, February 19. A Q&A will follow the screening, at which John Paul Rice will be in attendance. (Edgar will be remaining in L.A.) More information about “Mother’s Red Dress,” as well as trailers for the film, can be found at the No Restrictions Entertainment website .
Image courtesy of No Restrictions Entertainment.