LEAST AMONG SAINTS, a Tough and Tender Tearjerker from Director Martin Papazian

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LEAST AMONG SAINTS, a moving drama of hope and compassion, recently held a private screening and reception for select members of the media, donors and the films Volunteers Of America partner at the ICM Building in Century City, California.

 Written and Directed by Martin Papazian, LEAST AMONG SAINTS, also stars Tristan Lake Leabu, Audrey Marie Anderson, AJ Cook, Azura Skye, and Laura San Giacoma with Charles S. Dutton and Papazian in the lead.

LEAST AMONG SAINTS, tells the story of an Iraqi Freedom Vet, Anthony Hayward/Martin Papazain who suffers deeply from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has re-entry issues and is attempting to find a place in his old hometown where no one seems to “want” him anymore.

The story weaves in the realities of small town, USA, and doesn’t shy away from disturbing realities of contemporary recession burdened life, single parenting and escape mechanism. As Hayward tries to adjust his new life is met with a former wife who has filed for divorce, a new stung out neighbor and her young son, Wade, portrayed by Tristan Lake Leabu, and frequent suicide attempts.

Leabu gives a convincing performance of a street tough kid, with a tender, wounded heart, trying to cope with life, his absentee mom and adolescences. He witnesses his mother’s drug over dose and clings to hope that his deadbeat dad will remember him, show up and rescue him from this hell.  

Laura San Giacomo, also gives a convincing performance in her portrayal of Jolene, a tough as nails burnt out Social Worker; her light in the end of the tunnel hope is rare in those situations. She was able to see beyond the black and white report and into the eyes of humanity which again is rarely accomplished in real life. 

Azura Skye, embodies May, and delivers an outstanding performance as an ICU Nurse who in a symphonic exchange she lovingly acts as a conduit between a child, Wade, who whispers his last words to his dying, and already brain dead, mother as May whispers back and provides a few loving moments, before the scene crescendos with death. It was tender and tearful.

Papazain gave a stellar performance as a returning Afghan vet.  He is able to, and it seemed effortlessly, portray the veteran suffering deeply from re-entry.  His service record weighs heavily on Police Chief George, portrayed by Charles S. Dutton, who suffered through the same “welcome” years before. The film implies George/Dutton served in Vietnam and suffered from the same reoccurring nightmares. He is a saint, as he saves Hayward from the seriousness of his actions as Hayward believes he is due, which he is a better homecoming, welcome and opportunity. 

Having the opportunity to participate in the press day held at the Los Angeles Offices of PMK BNC the following are an excerpt of the interviews with Laura San Giacomo and Martin Papazian.

Janet Walker: What was your most memorable moment from filming LEAST AMONG SAINTS?

Laura San Giacomo: Um. Well, I think the two things actually about quite a few moments, certainly the moment on the couch with the necklace was really kind of big and the last scene too.

Janet Walker: Why?

Laura San Giacomo: Cause they were such . . . the way that the writer took some of the metaphors of the story and injected them into the scenes really had that quiet resonance that makes you have chills or you can sort of hear the silence, it sort of echo’s and I think that I really experienced it. Not only the first time I read it and you have that moment but then after doing it and you feel it the moment to be in the story feeling it. And in that scene and the scene with the milk and there are these little metaphors that come to life, when you start acting them, it’s almost like a heighted real moment, a heightened reality, but not over the top it’s almost underneath. It’s a lovely resonance.

 

Marty Papazian:  One of my favorite moments, something she does in the last scene, which I don’t want to say because I don’t want to give it away, something so charming, as she turn to the boy, and say “Okay” (voice projecting a happy everything’s fine tone) after she gives Hayward this litany of things he’s not going to do.

When we rehearsed together, we had a little time to rehearse, and Laura said, ‘Let’s just leave that one alone. Let’s not talk too much about that. And that was something that was improvisational on her part, and had such charm, and it’s so perfect. We knew in editing, we would always say in editing, it works so beautifully and because in that moment everything comes, it’s the quality of the film. This is a tough story of two people who are incredibly wounded and there is some beauty that comes out of it. You know it’s like the flower that grows out through the sidewalk in New York.

I think for me in post production, you know putting it together, working so hard in the edit and then there was one moment in the mix when we laid in a piece of score and we were having trouble finding it and my father’s the producer said, ‘just move it eight frames’ and he slide the cue and we played it and somehow it all kind of fit together and I kind of kicked back and I was bouncing around like a boxer because I had this overwhelming serge of like it works, it works, it really works, it’s going to work, but having not had the feeling for nine months was like what have I done. That was a moment.

Janet Walker: After seeing LEAST AMONG SAINTS, I feel it could be considered and some would say this is a scathing post mortem on American society and values and how we welcome home our Vets or lack of that and the integration of Veterans, re-entry and also with children, and as a former’s children’s advocate I understands how real those moments and how we dump in society both veterans, re-entry and children and thing that challenges us into veteran polices, including re-entry and the difficult or challenging and again with children. So what message would you like audiences to take away from seeing this film?

Laura San Giacomo: Well, Marty you put it so eloquently I think you should take this.

Marty Papazian: I think we can find personal freedom through acts of compassion. So I don’t, that’s the only thing that has ever worked for me to sort of get me out of my own darkness and I’ve been taught that in those times, to reach out and try to help somebody else.  And sometimes our closer side of the world seems overwhelmingly negative and I think the only real truth is acts of kindness for one another, those simple acts of kindness, throughout the day and throughout our lives that mount up to be really meaningful for ourselves and those around us. Yes, the integration process of Veterans, we all know, is really challenging and hard on these guys, and also Social Workers and healthcare but what this story is about are the people who go one step beyond that and do what they can.

That’s what soldier’s do, that’s what nurses do, and that’s what social workers do you know, they’re there and they do what’s needed. They’re the least among saints; all the people in our society that help us along the way. They’re there in the trying times. They’re the regular unsung heroes.

LEAST AMONG SAINTS is filled with those moments when people who are passed by, dedicated professional, Nurses, Social Workers and even law enforcement officers, step in to cover we weaker mortals during the most difficult moments without expectations.

LEAST AMONG SAINTS opens in select cities Friday, October 12, 2012 and rolls out the following week, October 19th into larger release.

For more information: www.leastamongsaints.com

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