CinemaSavannah presents Savannah Director, DP team thriller, ‘The Big Bend’

Delilah Wagner and Nick Masciangelo in 'The Big Bend'.

Join two families that meet in the remote Texas desert, as they test the boundaries of marriage, friendship, and parenthood, doing their best to survive, while exploring one of the wildest places in America in the feature film “The Big Bend.”

CinemaSavannah will host a screening for the movie on Friday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center. The film, written and directed by Brett Wagner, a Savannah-based filmmaker and Associate Chair of the Department of Film and Television at SCAD, is thrilled to have his film screened.

“Tomasz Warchol, who runs CinemaSavannah, was enthusiastic about the movie. I took this opportunity to show it to a wider audience here in Savannah including some of my new students that didn’t get to see it,” said Wagner. 

The movie screened back in October at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, where it won the Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast. If you missed your chance to see it then, you have the opportunity now through CinemaSavannah.

“I just love the idea of CinemaSavannah and it fills an important void here in Savannah because unfortunately for such an artistic town, we do not have an arthouse movie theater or an alternative movie theater.”

“The Big Bend” is an intimate psychological drama set against the vast and remote Big Bend region of West Texas. The two families are on vacation in this stark and isolated area.

“A lot of this story came from a vacation that my family took with my producer's family. I've been friends with the producer of this movie, Aaron Brown, for 20 years. We had a wonderful trip. Terrible things did not happen, but the environment was really compelling to me,” said Wagner.

Fortunately Wagner’s vacation went smoothly compared to the families he created in his film. The sense of disconnect from the world the landscape offers is the perfect backdrop for the story of two couples forced to confront issues within their marriages.

“I'm a visual director and I was just blown away by this environment. There's something magical about that part of the world where strange things kind of happen. It's a little bit mysterious,” he said.

In the movie, the families have not seen each other in a couple of years and despite the fact they are both going through something neither family plans on telling.

“Once they get there one day on a hike, one of the kids goes missing, wanders off, and that emergency kind of pulls the lid off everything that both families are dealing with, and it all comes spilling out very dramatically,” said Wagner.

“The Big Bend” premiered at the Austin Film Festival and has won several festival awards, including Best Feature at the Kansas City and South Texas Film Festivals and has been in other film festivals as well.

Wagner explained that the cast and crew were different. The majority of the crew, aside from the producer and cinematographer Paul Atkins, who have worked with Wagner for 15 years, was young, and for most of them this was their first feature film.

On the other hand the majority of the cast are experienced professionals who have been working in Hollywood for many years.

“They were on a real adventure. We were asking them to come away from home for an entire month in a very remote place and work on this movie under pretty difficult circumstances because we had to shoot during the summer. their energy and their commitment was fantastic,” he said.

His daughters Delilah and Zoe Wagner are a part of the cast, playing the daughters of one of the couples in the film.

Like many filmmakers Wagner is happy to see his film in different film festivals on the big screen as that is the scale he intended it for. 

“I feel like I've had three hometown premieres. The first was Austin, which is not where I'm from, but the whole crew was from there and that felt like a homecoming. Then in Hawaii where I lived for many years, and then here in Savannah where I currently live first at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and now with CinemaSavannah,” said Wagner.

After the film screening Wagner will be available for a brief Q&A and he hopes to be joined by his cinematographer Paul Atkins. 

"The Big Bend" presented by CinemaSavannah on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center, 201 Montgomery St. Cost: $10 (card accepted by cash preferred).

Kareem McMichael

Kareem McMichael is a filmmaker, documentarian, writer, and multimedia content creator. The Macon native enjoys entertainment, and sharing with locals and visitors’ stories about Savannah’s art and culture scene. When he is not working, he enjoys relaxing at the beach, grabbing a beverage, hitting a fun art event,...

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