Andrew Garfield's Abu Dhabi-produced film triumphs at French film fest

Published September 14th, 2015 - 11:00 GMT

Andrew Garfield's latest film '99 Homes', directed by Ramin Bahrani, took home the Grand Prize at France’s Deauville American Film Festival in Normandy on Saturday, AFP reports.

Set in Florida around the 2008 financial crisis, 99 Homes follows the struggles of a young father, played by 'The Amazing Spiderman' star Andrew Garfield, who is evicted from his home after it is foreclosed and then agrees to work for the amoral real estate broker behind his troubles, in order to make ends meet and regain his home.

The film, co-produced by Abu Dhabi’s Image Nation, was chosen for “its intense dramatic force and absolutely exceptional interpretation”, the head of the jury, French director Benoit Jacquot told AFP, noting the standout performances by lead actors Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon.

To prepare for the role, Garfield spent two weeks living with evicted families in motels, a humbling experience where he found evictees remarkably willing to talk, AP reported.

"It  felt like they needed to share it constantly throughout the day to make sense of it," Garfield says. "Because it felt completely irrational and of course unjust, the situation they were in.

"I think it's impossible to make a film like this without honouring the people that are living it every day."

Director Bahrani wanted to show a different side to Florida, which is often portrayed as a fun-filled Disney experience, retirees' or rich person's playground.

"The whole world was turned upside down economically by what started in Florida, which is where my film takes place," said the director at the Toronto Film Festival. "So I went down there and spent time with fraud attorneys, with realtors going on evictions, in foreclosure courts ... with thieves, hoodlums, crooks (and) wildly rich hedge-fund managers. The corruption was just mind-boggling.

"What became the heart (of the story) was the very normal middle-class families ... living in motels on the road to Disney World. ... So normal. Not poor. Middle-class, normal families living in hotels with their kids."

Fourteen films competed this year.

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