In the South, a deadly poisonous mold starts ravaging a small town. The film is told through the perspective of a teenager trying to make sense of the situation after losing his mother. Between grief, anger and his inability to grasp it all, The Chair is a powerful, deeply moving and even chilling tale of Nature vs. Mankind. With its contagious atmosphere, the film is a gripping story that explores timeless questions, while immersing its audience in a strange haunting dream.
For his NYU graduate thesis project, writer/director Grainger David drew his inspiration from where he grew up, South Carolina. Always interested in how childhood memories tend to be distorted with time, especially when they stem from dark, tragic events, he went back to a memory of his mother scraping a dark and looming stain of mold off the ceiling of his bedroom, after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Whether it had actually happened exactly that way was not the question anymore, he penned a film that communicates a combination of feelings and questions the relationship between life and nature (the distinct humid, ever-encroaching Southern one).
Filmed in South Carolina, visually The Chair hooks its audience from its opening shot. The locations inject David’s film with an authentic feel and through the cinematography, and its visual flair, we experience this story like we are right there, shoulder-to-shoulder with the main character. Despite how tragic the story is, the score never gets too dramatic and doesn’t undermine the power of the images. While the editing and pacing allows the audience to grasp every moment, giving them the emotional space to process it all.
Once the atmosphere is set, the emotional engagement of the audience relies on the effective storytelling of the piece. The screenplay feels very raw and genuine and telling the narrative through the perspective of a child makes it even more compelling, as we also witness his youthful innocence stripped away. The narrator and the main actor are different people and both bring different sides of the same character to the screen. The actor, without speaking, completely expresses all of his character’s inner turmoil as he is living it. The narrator, however, has a little distance with the events and tells the story with more understanding of what happened, in a composed manner that makes it even more moving.
Although not a recent film, The Chair recently had its online premiere and we’re happy to finally be able to share it with you after all these years. Back in 2012, David’s short had a very successful festival run with notable stops at Telluride,the Official Competition of Cannes and later at the 63rd Berlinale, picking up awards at SXSW, Aspen ShortsFest and LAFF (RIP). David is currently working on feature film The Wall at the End of the Road, loosely extrapolated from The Chair.