Adonia Papathanassiu                Adrienne Black

Director Statement

By Adonia Papathanassiu: 

Looking back at our experience of writing, directing and producing The Mission, there are a couple of things that seem quite astonishing: for one, that we ever started it;  two, that we ever finished it. Inspired by true events, the idea for The Mission evolved slowly from a documentary about metaphysics to a comedy about freedom. The evolution took an astonishing 7 years.

This is how The Mission was born. In the spring of 2002, Adrienne and I were experimenting with digital technology and how it interfaced with the Internet. Such extracurricular activities have always been important to us. I am a biochemist by training and she is a life-long disciple of classical philosophy. Our interest in technology led us to befriend Eugene, who, at that time, was a physical chemist aspiring to become a rabbi. The 2002-2003 time period was an interesting one. The mood of the country was sober. There was talk of imminent threats, survival kits and war, which left the three of us feeling that our freedoms were slowly eroding. At the same time, there was a media buzz about how well the internet porn industry was surviving the recession that followed the internet bubble and the 9/11 events. This is how the idea of the young Jewish man, who seeks to break out of the constraints of his every day by making a controversial film, came to life.

At its core, The Mission is a serious film that uses a light comedic language to raise somber questions. It moves along two interweaving storylines: the first one is focused on Eugene, a physical chemist trapped in a lonely, loveless, and unsatisfactory existence, while the second one involves a group of plantation slaves at the brink of the Civil War. The movie deliberately blurs the line between imagination and reality and leaves up to the audience to decide what is real. The Mission is a comedy because we believe that there is a cathartic quality in being able to laugh at something serious. Some of the ideas presented in the film may be controversial. We want to emphasize that we have no intention of insulting anyone and if anyone feels insulted after watching our film, we apologize in advance.

Filming The Mission was not an easy venture. Holding down a day job meant that, on occasion, we had to shoot at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. A non-existent budget meant that we had to continuously compromise between what we desired and what we could actually accomplish. The majority of the actors had never acted before and had to be recruited among relatives and friends. We encountered a number of post-production delays. Interestingly, the film that emerged after the final edit in October 2008 is somewhat different that the one conceived in 2002-2004. Scenes that seemed important during filming they faded into obscurity during editing, while others emerged as essential. Despite the difficulties, we consider the making of The Mission an amazing adventure.









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