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JEROME

USA, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Thomas Johnston, David Elton, Eric Tignini

Wade Hampton (Drew Pillsbury) has worked as a welder for 15 years, eight hours a day. Amidst the mind-numbing spell of the machinery, he allows quiet introspection to call forth dreams of deeper ambitions. One day he reaches a state of critical mass and he walks away from his job, family, friends and all responsibilities. He hits the road in a car he stole from the boss, heading for a remote Arizona artists' colony called Jerome - a place he knows only from a postcard he was given by a workmate. On his journey, he picks up hitchhiker Jane (Wendie Malick, from TV's Just Shoot Me), a road-hard drifter who lives the life of freedom he has longed for. As they cross the hot desert, events snowball until Wade is forced to confront crisis and casual violence so far beyond his experience that sanity is at stake.

At the core of Jerome is the question of how well others know us, particularly when a person makes a dramatic change in their life. Sometimes humorous, often revealing, interview segments with family and fellow workers give insights into Wade's secret mental life and motivations. Where he has a dream, Jane has a gun, and that's where their futures diverge.

Co-filmmakers Thomas Johnston, David Elton and Eric Tignini built an original narrative around a character whose simple dreams are misinterpreted. Those closest to Wade, it transpires, know him the least. Fifteen years of dreaming amidst the stink and smoke of an industrial workshop, the insults of a whip-hand foreman and working class Bakersfield misery had caused Wade to literally take his job and shove it. Liberation, however, may not be all he hoped for.

Collectively know as JET, Thomas Johnston, David Elton and Eric Tignini have worked as filmmaking partners for the past 15 years. Johnston has continued a long association with the Coen Brothers as a Script Supervisor, Elton has enjoyed a successful career as a Set Decorator and Tignini has worked as an Assistant Director on such films as Forest Gump, City of Angels and Mullholland Falls. JET have collaborated as screenwriters prior to Jerome but this is their first film as directors and producers.

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