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"I used to be darker. Then I got lighter, then I got darker again. Something too big to be seen was passing over and over me."

Prompted by her own dramas, 19-year-old Northern Irish runaway Taryn leaves her summer job and heads to Baltimore to stay with her aunt and uncle, both musicians. But upon arrival she finds herself in the midst of their divorce, an outsider catching glimpses of their world of resentment and conflict. As tensions simmer, Taryn finds solace in her budding connection with her cousin, Abby.

Drawing its title from a line in the Bill Callahan song Jim Cain, and with music playing a significant part in the film, I Used to be Darker is "full of big emotions, broad gestures and song, but like the best cinematic realism it also finds time to explore the quotidian," says director Matthew Porterfield. Performed with a powerful improvisational style that revels in everyday events, this observational film has an emotional immediacy, with the live music of the doomed couple – played by real-life musicians Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham – ever present. A precise, striking visual style and a naturalistic script deliver an honest picture of family dynamics and revelations.

Matt Porterfield is a guest of the festival.

D Matt Porterfield P Steve Holmgren, Ryan Zacarias S Matt Porterfield, Amy Belk WS New Europe Film Sales TD HD Cam/2013

Read an extended Senses of Cinema interview with Matt Porterfield here.