Concordia alumnus’ new film, We’re Still Together, has already garnered worldwide attention
Picture a teenager, Chris, being accosted and bullied by two kids about his age who take pleasure in beating the crap out of him. Witness to the scene is a single dad, Bobby, who comes to Chris’ aid and stops the fight. Over the course of that night, the two of them forge an incredibly tight yet complex friendship.
Such is the story told in We’re Still Together, the first feature film by filmmaker and alumnus of Concordia’s communications program, Jesse Noah Klein. Klein partnered with Marley Sniatowsky, the producer of the film and an alumnus of Concordia’s art history program. With a theatrical release set for Sept. 29, We’re Still Together takes a look at relationships and just how strikingly influential they can be—even if they last only one evening.
One evening… in Montreal.
“Yeah, the movie takes place here,” Klein said. “I knew I was going to set the film here. I’m from Montreal, I grew up here, I went to college here, so there was never any doubt that I would set the movie here.”
True to the city’s nature, the film includes both English and French-speaking characters, though most of the movie is in English.
“The city plays a huge role in the film, and it’s kind of unmistakable,” Klein added. “So I never thought of setting it somewhere else.”
The film’s setting has a lot to do with the story itself. “Just the way these two strangers can come together and have this meaningful experience, it’s kind of an urban story in itself,” Klein said. “Ultimately, what I hope people can take [away] from it is just how sustaining the relationships we make can be for us.”
Not only does the movie explore the depth of fleeting friendship, like the one between Chris (Jesse Camacho) and Bobby (Joey Klein), but it also chronicles the other relationships in both the characters’ lives. Bobby is a distressed single father, facing challenges with his ex-wife, which in turn jeopardize his ties with his daughter. On the other hand, Chris is a socially awkward teen who doesn’t really get along with anyone. The experience they share throughout the course of one night teaches them a lot about themselves.
The essence of the characters is also integral the storyline. “I wrote [Bobby’s] role for my older brother,” Klein explained. “That was one of the starting points for me. I saw something in him. I saw his range as an actor.” Klein said he started with the idea for the character, “and let the story evolve from there.”
“I see a lot of myself in both characters,” the filmmaker added. “I don’t think we’re restricted to age or gender when it comes to how we create characters, and I think that’s kind of liberating.”
Even prior to its theatrical release, We’re Still Together has already made waves across the globe. The film had its world premiere in July 2016 at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic—an experience Klein described as highly unforgettable.
“I remember sitting there for 82 minutes and thinking, ‘This is boring. This is boring. This is boring.’ And I was just terrified,” he exclaimed with a smile. “And then the response was great. It was a crazy experience. I was elated. During that standing ovation, I was like, ‘Where am I? What is going on?’”
The film has garnered praise since then and has been shown at festivals in India, Italy, Argentina and Mexico, among others. Both lead actors, Joey Klein and Jesse Camacho, have won ACTRA (Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists) awards in Toronto and Montreal, respectively. Yet, there’s something special about a theatrical release right around the corner, Klein admitted.
“Quite frankly, the thing about a theatrical release is that we don’t know,” he said, referring to the public’s response. Ultimately, he has faith in the audience’s love for film.
“There are still movie theatres,” Klein said, nodding. “People do still go to the movies and look at the box office of the opening weekend.” He then added, with a knowing smile, “I’m excited about this.”
We’re Still Together will be released on Sept. 29 at Cineplex Odeon Forum and Cineplex Odeon Quartier Latin. Jesse Noah Klein will be available for Q&A sessions on the 29th at the Quartier Latin (in French) and on the 30th at the Forum (in English).