Filmmaker Monika Petrillo and Nebraska-born lead actress Caitlin Brandes are proud to be invited to the 13th edition of the Omaha International Film Festival to celebrate the Nebraska premiere of their award-winning short film, WINK.
“It’s really exciting to come back to the home turf and share work I’m very proud of,” Brandes said. Brandes, who grew up in Central City, graduated from Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She met Petrillo during a casting session in Los Angeles, and immediately convinced the director she was the perfect fit for the role.
Monika Petrillo’s second film and first narrative piece, Wink has already won several awards, including the Audience Award at Dances With Films, Most Innovative Short at the Hollywood Film Festival and Best Romance at the Marina del Rey Film Festival. The film’s 12 official selections include the Austin Film Festival, Bogotá Short Film Festival, Beloit International Film Festival and Richmond International Film Festival.
The 15-minute piece, starring Brandes and Michael Chandler, tells the story of a lonely and slightly repressed housewife who discovers an unusual way to spice up her afternoon.
Before writing and directing her own films, Petrillo had the opportunity to learn from a line of accomplished directors. Working as script supervisor on more than 75 productions prepared her well with regards to communicating,and executing her vision, as well as handling situations like comforting her lead actress during a scene requiring nudity, and working with marginally trainable animals.
“I was so lucky to have a lead actress as professional, talented, charming and beautiful as Caitlin,” Petrillo said. Petrillo watched the story she had thought up months before on a road trip through Death Valley come to life.
Petrillo fell in love with the story about a newlywed woman and a goldfish, not only because of its potential for rich visuals, but also because she felt isolation within a relationship was a theme many people could relate to. So, like her lead character Melanie, who decides to break out of her routine and take the plunge, Petrillo took matters into her own hands. She wrote the script, filmed in her own house, edited the film and is thrilled to see it now do so well in the festival circuit.
“Now that’s the way to do a short: tiny in scale, but full of meaning,” Bill Pope, director of photography for The Matrix and Jungle Book, said about the film.
“I purposely worked to keep my film simple and subtle. Today we are so used to seeing movies densely packed with fast action and effects,” Petrillo said. “I wanted to invite the audience to slow down and zero in on what’s going on behind the eyes of one lonely woman; because to her, that longing makes up her whole universe. And Caitlin nailed that. She carries the entire film with the tiniest movements in her face.”
WINK will screen March 10 at 11:30 a.m. at the Village Pointe Cinema, 304 N. 174th St, Omaha.