In the Moon’s Shadow

On Thursday evening, August 22nd,  the New York premiere of the independent feature film, In the Moon’s Shadow, made its debut, a two-year in the making labor of love for producers Debra Lord Cooke, Elissa Piszel, and Thomas Kesolits, directed by Alvin Case and written by Edward Case. The premiere was held at the Tribeca Film Center in Manhattan. Film score was by Lady Lamb (stage name of Aly Spaltro, composer, singer, and songwriter). In addition to Cooke and Piszel in lead roles, it also stars Jules Hartley.

The film is about the relationship between two sisters, Karen (played by Elissa Piszel) and Lisa (played by Debra Lord Cooke). It opens with a wide shot of Lisa, a workaholic lawyer, arriving for a weekend visit with her younger, recently widowed sister at their Maine family compound on an idyllic lake, the original Golden Pond, with Lisa struggling in heels and a wheeled suitcase down a long dirt road in the magnificent Maine countryside. On another level, the film is also about the total eclipse of the sun (that actually took place in 2017, the first full eclipse in nearly a century) and its effect on both sisters and nature. During the panel discussion with the actors and movie makers after the screening, we learn the movie was filmed in only five days, with one being the actual real time eclipse captured in stunning footage at the Sand Hills of Nebraska with its odd geological formations adding mystery to both the landscape and the film.

Karen, mentally struggling with the loss of her beloved husband, pleads with Lisa to come with her to Nebraska to experience the eclipse. An underlying current of trouble between the sisters is sensed in the subtle and well-acted scenes by Cooke and Piszel, yet gives nothing away. A haunting and suspenseful score by Lady Lamb adds to the tension and mystery of what has happened to cause the two sisters to have become estranged. It is not until later in the film, when the sisters finally arrive in Nebraska after an arduous journey, that we learn the source of the trouble. In a remarkably dramatic, well-directed and acted scene between the sisters at night sitting in front of a crackling fire, Lisa, without using the words envy or jealousy, confesses a deep loss of her own as the reason it was so hard to be in the company of her sister, a sister so in love with a wonderful husband, sadly now dead. The communication of this secret unites the sisters in their shared sense of loss and surprisingly brings them closer together. 

Towards the end of the film, the Lakota Indian tribe is seen performing a ritual song as the eclipse is about to happen. One senses the spiritual unification of the sun, moon, people, and nature that is about to be witnessed. The movie is a remarkable reflection of the artistry of writer, actors, and director in a stunning new independent film.

New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) assisted the filmmakers in raising funds from tax-deductible contributions.

Moon Shadow Pictures LLC was formed to produce the film. It is a woman owned/managed company helping to offer opportunities in the film community for women filmmakers and crew, to disabled filmmakers and actors, and to young people by offering internships—especially for girls, focusing on telling stories involving women. 

Photos credit: Alvin Case, Director and Photographer