“Ron and Laura Take Back America” is one of the opening night films at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. The film has already received a number of awards on the festival circuit.
“We are honored that our ‘Ron and Laura’ was chosen as the opening film of the IIFC,” said Sue Vaccaro, the film’s executive producer and a Tony-winning producer.
“Ron and Laura Take Back America” is a mockumentary satire about a suburban couple who decide to take their country back from Obamacare, gay marriage, and Hollywood health-food nuts. It follows in the wonderful mockumentary tradition of Christopher Guest’s “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman.”
The movie follows the exploits of a suburban couple. A modern day “All in the Family,” the film is a funny, but sometimes poignant, look at a family divided by our contemporary political issues. When Ron and Laura decide to film their protests, the “culture wars” land right in their own backyard — they find out their son is gay and they lose their health insurance.
“[A mockumentary] seemed the most apt filming device,” Jan Markam, co-writer, co-producer and one of the stars said, explaining their choice of genre. “They’re scared conservatives who see the country taken away from them. Asking, ‘What is happening to the country?’ gave us a lot of room to be creative.”
“With seven awards and nominations under our belt from the festival circuit, we hope to be the highlight of the festival,” Vaccaro added. “Ron and Laura” won four awards at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival in September, including “Best Comedy,” “Best of Festival,” “Best Director” and “Best Actress” (Markham).
Earlier in 2014, the film also won “Best Comedy” at the New York City International Film Festival, and earned nominations for “Best US Narrative Feature” and “Best Actor” (England).
In their first formal collaboration, Mel England and Markham wrote, directed and co-starred in the film. It also stars Golden Globe® Best Actress Nominee Irene Bedard, familiar to Idyllwild audiences, and Jim J. Bullock. Academy Award® Best Actress Nominee Sally Kirkland makes a celebrity cameo appearance.
Similar to Guest’s films, improvisation plays an important part, according to Markham. With a limited budget, they filmed tightly to the original script. But the scenes of her and England answering questions on the couch were filmed at the end. Unexpectantly, these conversations became riffs of improv.
“Our film editor fell in love with them and used more than the original script intended,” Markham said.
The award-winning feature will play at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6 at the Rustic Theatre, and will be followed by the Opening Night Gala of the festival. The film screens again as part of the festival’s weekend programming at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9 at the Rustic Theatre.