One of the beauties of Italian neorealism is its dedication at using non-actors in telling an immersive narrative. Crafted by such directors as Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Open City) and Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), it’s a genre that still echoes today, most notably in director Ronald Krauss’ inspired (and at times heartbreaking drama) Gimme Shelter.
In her most nuanced and challenging performance to date, Vanessa Hudgens is Apple Bailey, a pregnant teenage runaway who tracks down her birth father (an understated Brendan Fraser) in an attempt to seek a bit of refuge. With an abusive, drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) as her main parental figure, Apple’s life has been nothing short of a nightmare, but thanks to her determination and flourishing friendship with an extended family, things gradually change for the better.
The feature is inspired by Kathy DiFiore, who has made it her life work at running Several Sources Shelters. Mr. Krauss spent a year living in a shelter to initially direct a documentary, but instead decided to pen a screenplay based on his experience with the various women he met during his stay.
“When you see ‘based on a true story’ in a lot of films, usually those are recounting a story from years ago, ” says Krauss. “(With Gimme Shelter) it was evolving around me as I was writing the screenplay. There was a limit because the abuse that these girls really go through, I couldn’t put that in the movie.”
A harrowing sequence of the film features Apple’s mom ready to attack her with a razor blade sticking out of her mouth. “The razor blade (scene) – that really happened to this young girl named Darlisha (Darlisha Dozier, who co-stars in the feature),” added Krauss. “They told me things that were so hard and I felt so much for these girls and their lives. The courage of (them) to come out and open up – it’s hard. They trusted me to do a good job and tell their story and their story to help others, so that other people can see this film and get inspired to reach out to people.”
To hear Kathy DiFiore talk about the joy behind making Several Sources Shelters her life work, click on the SoundCloud bar below:
Gimme Shelter opens January 24. To hear Rosario Dawson talk about her role in the film, check out the previous post, which also contains Gimme Shelter’s official trailer.