By GWEN OREL
Montclair Film Festival Artistic Director Tom Hall introduced “Band Aid” on Saturday night at the Wellmont by saying that he’d seen the film at Sundance, and had just stopped laughing.
Zoe Lister-Jones’ film about a couple turning their fights into songs was the festival’s closing night film.
Lister-Jones not only wrote and directed the film, she also wrote the songs for it and starred in it. “Band Aid” is her first feature as a director. She appeared onstage after the showing to talk with Hall and take questions from the audience.
Hall said that this film was “not a hard sell in Montclair: a married couple fights — ‘I’ll take two, please.’”
“Band Aid” will open at the IFC in New York City on June 2.
Lister-Jones said she began with the songs, and was looking for a story she could have fun writing. She has been married for four years, but been with her husband for 13. She realized that every couple fights and believes their fights are singular — then she spoke to her friends.
“We all were having the same fight,” said the director. While her husband, Daryl Wein, has been “very supportive” and executive-produced the film, he was not the first reader of the screenplay, she said.
Unusually, the performances in the film were shot live, rather than having actors perform to playback.
“It was important to me to capture the imperfections of live performance,” Lister-Jones said. The cast had two months’ band practice before shooting, which also helped them to get to know one another. Fred Armisen, who plays the weirdo neighbor, plays drums in the film, and is really a drummer.
Among her inspirations were Cassavetes, if Cassavetes made comedy, said Lister Jones. Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives” was also a big influence, especially in the way the camera in that film was voyeuristic. A big fight scene at the climax of the movie was done in one long seven-minute take, she said.
An audience member asked about the fictional couple’s being Jewish: Lister-Jones replied that she was, and wanted to “‘write what you know.’ I think some folks from my synagogue are here,” she said. “Park Slope Jewish Center is representing.”
Another question was about the film’s image of a dripping vent at the end. The movie opens with a faucet dripping, Lister-Jones said. That drip is fixed in the film, but seeing another drip shows that there are always “new things to be mended.”