When something collapses, a new beginning takes shape, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse—friendships, relationships, City Center. Such is the metaphor for director Matt Jay’s drama “The Mountain Crumbles” (showing this weekend at the Gateway Film Center). But, really, he made the movie so that what you take away from the independent film is up to you.
“I’d like viewers to step away with whatever the emotions and events of the film stir up in them,” says Jay, a filmmaker from Portland, Oregon, living in New York, with an Ohio State alumnus father. “Whether it’s a memory from their own life, a vague feeling, a specific thought about relationships or maybe even something totally unrelated to the film and what happened in it.”
The minimalist drama is about two estranged brothers who take a weekend camping trip to bond after spending years apart. A mysterious woman hiker joins the two, highlighting the more complicated questions of adulthood and the ebb and flow of every relationship.
The film was selected and screened in Pennsylvania earlier this year by the Artsfest Film Festival. Although “not much appears to be happening on the surface, emphasis is instead placed on smaller details,” Jay says.
A lot of those details are in the camera work. Cinematographer Sam Kuhn has roots in skate and snowboarding videos, which requires impulsive lens work and intense landscape shooting. “Those were two things I wanted him to bring to the film,” Jay says. “But I also wanted the style to be really restrained and still, which is the opposite of what Sam was used to. I think he ended up infusing his own sensibility with stuff like the super-8 photography and underwater photography, both of which were his ideas.”
Jay’s past work includes several short documentaries and co-direction of a feature narrative. He’s currently working with “The Mountain Crumbles” composer Keegan DeWitt on music video projects treated as short films.
The show starts Sunday at 2 pm and includes an intro from Jay. Some fun pre-movie trivia: “The cast and crew all slept in the same tent during shooting. It was freezing and there were nights where friendly cuddling took place to stay warm,” Jay says. “That might be worth knowing!”
Ah yes, human relationships.