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I Used to Be Darker

I USED TO BE DARKER (I Used to Be Darker) Matt Porterfield, USA 2013, 90 min

"Best of Sundance, a true original!" (Indiewire)

A runaway seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in Baltimore and finds their marriage ending and er cousin in crisis. In the days that follow, the family struggles to let go of the past while searching for new things to hold onto.

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Press Coverage

Strand Releasing has acquired U.S. rights to Matt Porterfield’s family drama I USED TO BE DARKER, three months after its world premiere at Sundance. “Darker” also had an international premiere at Berlin and won the best narrative feature award at the Atlanta Film Festival. The film will be released theatrically in the U.S. in the fall. Deal was negotiated between Strand Releasing’s Jon Gerrans and George Rush. Ronnie Scheib gave the movie a positive review for Variety at Sundance: “A movie of careful entrances and exits, Matt Porterfield’s I USED TO BE DARKER chronicles the dissolution of a marriage through the eyes of a runaway cousin who drops in unannounced. This outsider presence, catching only fragmented snatches of the overcharged emotions engulfing the family, allows the film ample room to distance an otherwise tense situation.” (Variety, 2013)

Matt Porterfield isn’t afraid to get iconic: the film’s key image is a shot of Campbell, arms akimbo with her shoulder blades exposed at asymmetrical angles in a summer dress, seen from the back as she gazes into a lush green wood, a mop of strawberry hair falling to her shoulders. But the visual design of the film, executed by Porterfield’s steady cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier with his signature clarity and poise, usually works against movie-movie imagery. Even its one romantic interlude happens pretty much in the dark. Everything is geared towards a subtlety, a hushed ambience that allows the viewer to hear the characters think. When the movie suddenly cuts off, the immediate reaction is a sustained “Hmmmm.” About 30 minutes later, you’re going for the Kleenex. It’s a stealth bomb. (Steve Dollar at Green Cine Daily, 2013)

Awards and Festivals