Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (Formerly known as The
Washougal International Film Festival)
Surviving Family won the Narrative Feature at the
Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. A heartbreaking,
captivating story of a girl drowning in the trauma of her mother’s
suicide so many years ago enthralls audiences. Terry tries to
navigate life with her family, with her fiancé, and with the
nightmares that haven’t left her since she turned 13.
After her mother committed suicide on her 13th birthday, Terry
Malone is tormented with nightmares from that night. Terry never
forgave her father, Hank, who raised her and her brother and sister
by himself after his wife’s death. Instead, she casts the blame for
her mother’s suicide at the feet of her father’s drinking problem
and womanizing ways, claimed that he practically hung the rope
himself. Her vocal opinions do nothing to improve her relationship
with her sister.
But now Terry is 24. And Alex and she are getting married and the
time has come to introduce him to the family which remains broken
after the loss of their mother. With Alex and Terry’s relationship
met with skepticism from Terry’s older sister Jean, who herself was
married for a total of 6 weeks, and Terry never having forgiven her
father for her mother’s death, the family interaction is stressful
to say the least. But birthday celebrations and wedding preparations
keep the family coming back to the table.
But the nightmares that pervade Terry’s mind are beginning to
devastate her. And when Terry’s beloved Aunt Mary tries to explain
that her mother’s death was caused by her mental illness and not by
her father, Terry becomes overwhelmed with the idea that her
nightmares are the beginning of the same mental illness in herself.
Terrified at the idea of putting her beloved fiancé through the same
pain that her family had to endure, Terry calls off the wedding.
Director Laura Thies joins forces with Producer and Writer Mara
Lesemann to create this touching movie about family dysfunction.
Shot in 20 days, the film is impressively done on a remarkably tight
budget, with the gemstone scene being in the wedding dress shop,
where, despite tight spaces and mirrors everywhere, beauty
blossomed. These filmmakers have the superb cast and crew they
assembled to thank for making this movie the award winning film that
Sarah Wilson stars as Terry Malone. She has also played in Fringe, a
sci-fi TV series which just completed its final season, and Gossip
Girl. Terry’s fiancé Alex is played by Billy Magnussen, who has also
performed in CSI, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Law & Order: Criminal
Intent. Tara Westwood, who plays Jean Malone Fulton, also acted in
Ugly Betty, CSI: Miami, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. And
beloved Aunt Mary was played by Phyllis Somerville, who can also be
found in Fringe and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
This film has won 10 awards; it was twice a runner up; and 14 other
times it was nominated at various film festivals. Awards such as the
Festival Director’s Award, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress,
Best Local Movie, and Viewer’s Choice were given to this fantastic
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