Diaspora Entertainment

“With Child” vies for Indie spirit award in AFI film fest

Actress Leslie Lewis Photo © https://www.facebook.com/LeslieLewisOnline/
Actress Leslie Lewis Photo © https://www.facebook.com/LeslieLewisOnline/

WITH Child, I find out quickly, is not an idiom to say pregnant but a literal description of a widowed construction worker who had to bring his four-month-old daughter into his workplace and everywhere else.

That “child” is Riley — left to the care of his construction worker dad Auden Price (played by Kerry van der Griend) when her mom died.

The child (not the character) is actually an offspring of one of the production staff. And this was revealed by Leslie Lewis, one of the film’s producers and leading actors, to the audience after the film’s screening at the Louis B. Mayer Library Building of the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles.

With Child is vying for the Indie Spirit Award in the ongoing AFI festival (November 10-17, 2016).

There is no roller coaster of emotions in With Child. But the string of charming scenes and funny one-liners would certainly keep the audience’s enthusiasm.

The storyline is familiar: the lead guy Auden Price, a widowed construction worker, fights to keep daughter’s custody from a sister-in-law who thinks the man couldn’t take care of the infant because of his circumstances.

The twist in the story came when Petra (played by Leslie Lewis), a queer physics university professor, inserted herself into the situation — first, by employing Auden to renovate her basement and later on, by starting a romance with the grieving father.

Well, this must have been something true about Canadians, but it indeed strikes me that everyone in the film seems to be all well-mannered. Even Karen, the sister-in-law who is fighting for the custody of Riley, hardly shows any hostility.

The movie has no villain to speak of and revolves around the unfortunate situation to draw out the emotions.

I am not saying that the movie is uninteresting to watch. On the contrary, the movie has enough charm to keep a viewer waiting for things to happen.

I don’t know why. This is probably because one would care to see what would happen to the child, or to the budding romance or the desire to hear and see more humor.

Most of the laugh lines are not funny LOL but are quirky, sarcasm-loaded jokes that tickle the cerebral.

Kerry and Leslie deserve praise for great acting and excellent deliveries, mostly in deadpan fashion, of those funny one-liners.

My LOL moment came when Auden, in an apparent effort to find emotional stability, went on an internet search for “porn for the bereaved.”

Of course, the movie doesn’t want to say something about porn other than generate laughs. But in my mind, I was saying: Of course, porn isn’t totally useless.

In another instance, Auden brought Riley to a bar and she instantly turned into a magnet to ladies. A charming scene, but I’m not sure if one could really bring in a four-month-old child into a Canadian nightclub.

Well, if they allow that, at least those bars should be smoke-free. But on second thought; has Riley been in an active construction site previously? Oh yes, I think so.

No courtroom drama in this movie, just one scene where Auden consults a lawyer who tells him that he would likely win his case.

So there.

The 87-minute With Child has been available in DVD format, which Leslie showed me during a brief interview.

By the way, Leslie Lewis is a daughter of a prominent Filipino lawyer-businesswoman-philantropist-community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis.

The movie is produced about three years ago by the With Child Productions. It was written and directed by Titus Heckel. The cast includes: Lori Kokotailo, Michael Soltis and Beau Heaton. The producers are Shannon Braithwaite, Titus Heckel and Leslie Lewis. The executive producers are Loida Nicolas Lewis and Gavin Sword.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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