The American film Lemon by Janicza Bravo will open the 46th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) on 25 January. Janicza Bravo’s impressive debut is a witty, no-holds-barred portrait of a likeable failure, with co-writer Brett Gelman (Dinner with Brett Gelman, Married), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, The Descendants), Nia Long (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boiler Room) and Michael Cera (Juno, Arrested Development) in the leading roles. Lemon will have its international première at IFFR.
Lemon tells the story of Isaac, a gawky forty-something from Los Angeles, whose life is not going as he would like. Accepting things doesn't come naturally to him: he has to face the fact that his girlfriend has left him and his acting career mostly consists of commercials about diseases. Co-writer Brett Gelman, Janicza Bravo’s husband, plays the lead role in this bone-dry tragicomedy without a hint of embarrassment.
Bero Beyer, IFFR festival director: “Janicza Bravo is the kind of filmmaker who, through her love for film and for people, is able to create a picture of our present time in a very unique way. Her debut, Lemon, tells the stories of people who are lost in a world of their own making. Bravo and her formidable cast do so in a fresh, witty and at times painful way. We are proud to open the festival with her film."
Janicza Bravo (1981), who won the jury award at the Sundance Film Festival with her short film Gregory Go Boom (2013), is continuing in a long tradition of American independent filmmakers, while at the same time finding her own voice. The filmmaker grew up in Panama and Brooklyn and studied theatre directing and design at the Playwrights Horizons Theater School in New York. After her studies, she worked as a stylist and designer, but made rapid strides as a filmmaker. Her first short film Eat premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2011. Her third short film, Pauline Alone, was released in 2014 – the year in which she was named as one of the ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film’ by Filmmaker Magazine. 2016 was a busy year for Bravo. Alongside her first feature, Lemon, she also launched two short films: Hard World for Small Things and Woman in Deep, as well as directing Juneteenth, episode 9 of the television series Atlanta.
Shiri Appleby, Fred Melamed, Megan Mullally, Gillian Jacobs and Jeff Garlin co-star in Lemon. The film is produced by Burn Later Productions, Killer Films and CYRK. David Bernon, Paul Bernon and Sam Slater produced the film with Han West and Houston King. David Hinojosa and Christine Vachon of Killer Films executive produced, along with Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman. Rowan Riley co-produced.