Down This Road
Follow the five steps below to get the most out of your UnLonely Film Festival experience!
Step 1: Watch the film.
Loss and loneliness send 12-year-old Rodney on a dangerous and brave journey to reclaim the love of his struggling, wayward father. In the wake of a grief-shattered family, parents and children often suffer apart.
About the FIlmmakers
Director Vinz Feller hails from Switzerland and continues to work there and in the U.S. directing commercial and narrative projects which have been recognized by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (NBR), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Swiss Department of Cultural Affairs.
Writer Paul Leo has worked as a writer, director of production and show-runner for a host of broadcast, online and film enterprises, including VH1, The Wall Street Journal, and Scripps.
Did you recognize a theme of loneliness as your project developed?
The writer of the film Paul Leo and I were mainly exploring themes of grief and loss and wanted to tell the story through the lens of twelve-year-old Rodney who tries to reconnect with his father who abandoned the family. Grief, depression, and loneliness are deeply connected and Rodney’s father is clearly someone who is just eaten up by his tremendous sadness.
Did any of your viewers give you feedback that reflected this aspect of your film?
Grief and loneliness are universal themes and it’s probably somewhat easier for people to share their stories of grief. Personal experiences of loneliness are still more tabooed in my opinion.
What do you hope UnLonely Film Festival audiences, trying to make sense of loneliness and isolation and navigate a path forward, take from your film?
In our story, the son reconnects with his father and although he’s not warm and charming at first glance, a simple gesture of holding hands, in the end, means a lot. There is hope, there is some human connection, there is this feeling for both of these characters that maybe, maybe life will get better at some point. It always does in due time.
Any other information of backstory you want to share about your film?
I have explored themes of loss and grief through most of my body of work and it’s interesting to take a look back and examine older pieces of work. There are elements that remain the same and some evolve.
Step 2: Explore these things after watching the film.
- Have you ever been abandoned by your parent or grandparent—if not physically, then emotionally? How did you respond? What did it feel like?
- Have you ever blamed yourself for a time when something went wrong? What was the experience like living with that blame?
- How did the conversation between the son and the father resonate with you? When you were a child, did you ever speak directly to your parent in the way that Rodney spoke to his father? How would you describe your communication with your parent or parents today (if they are around)?
- Using a 3- or 5-cell storyboard (printed from the Internet or drawn by hand with a ruler—2”x3” cells), sketch with a pencil and paper your memory of an incident where someone was hurt in part because of your neglect or mistake. It could be an accident where someone was injured or an argument where you hurt someone’s feelings. Document the events preceding the incident and then, in the final cell, the action that happened directly after. Once you are satisfied with your visualization of what happened, erase and redraw within the cells what you wished you had done to stop the event from occurring. Could you have stopped it, in reality?
- Write a letter to yourself, offering forgiveness for an accident or event for which you have held yourself responsible. Be gentle, but honest with yourself and consider what the consequences of any self-punishment, or self-criticism have been. Offer suggestions for new ways to move forward.
- Honor and memorialize your family by creating a thumbprint pendant or handprint coasters. Follow this recipe for making Salt Dough. After you’ve kneaded and rolled out the dough to a thickness that is durable but not too heavy, press your children’s hands or fingers into the dough. Cut around them in an interesting shape for a coaster or a pendant necklace and then bake the clay until done.
Our Try This page has even more creative expression inspiration!
Step 3: Join in the conversation about the film.
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