Emerging film-maker Enid Zentelis may currently reside in the cinematic hotbed of New York, but her roots are dug deep in the Pacific Northwest. And she’ll be returning home to Washington state when her latest feature film Bottled Up premieres at Seattle’s “Women in Cinema” festival Friday, January 24, 6:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Avenue North. Enid will be there, and she’s bringing an enthralling, darkly comedic cautionary tale with her.
Bottled Up pours out the story of a mother (delicately played by Academy Award winner Melissa Leo) who might prefer to live in denial of her daughter’s (a feisty Marin Ireland) addiction to prescription painkillers, and the charismatic young environmental crusader (Josh Hamilton walking the relationship tightrope) who wanders into their lives. At turns endearing, enraging, but always engaging, Bottled Up invites the viewer in to an all-too-common interpersonal puzzle that cries out for solution.
Writer/director Enid Zentelis considers herself a storyteller as much as a film-maker. Growing up in Bellingham, Washington, Zentelis quickly learned the importance of words and cultures from her immigrant parents. Enid’s father wrote poetry and read Ulysses with his daughter when she was just 16 years old. That’s right, Ulysses. Enid’s mother, a cultural anthropologist, impressed upon Enid the significance of people and societies and the tales that bind them together. From those combined influences, Enid developed her “hunger to tell stories and write.”
But why translate that storytelling desire to the silver screen? Enter Spike and Mike. When she saw her first Spike Lee film, Zentelis realized that “narrative films can be mind-opening.” And by the time she had become enthralled with Mike Leigh’s movies (Happy-Go-Lucky and Naked are among her favorites), Zentelis became convinced that life’s struggles could be portrayed in amazing, moving, challenging ways.
And portraying the “struggles of people who don’t know how to deal with addicts and their addiction” in a film like Bottled Up seemed the natural embodiment of those personal and cinematic influences. Why that specific subject matter? Zentelis will only comment that it stems from a “family tragedy.” ‘Nuf said.
If Enid Zentelis’ award-winning first feature film Evergreen (with locations shot in Everett, Washington, and references to her hometown of Bellingham) is any indication, Bottled Up will be well-received. The cast alone promises success. Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Frozen River) was among Zentelis’ “dream list of actors.” Leo “really responded to the script” and quickly signed on to the project. Likewise, Josh Hamilton “inhabited everything we wanted in his ‘odd man out’ character.” With Marin Ireland balancing out the trio, says Zentelis, “it was a joy watching the characters come to life.”
But Zentelis is only getting started. Her next film project delves into the banking industry and she’s working on a novel that she’s “trying very hard not to make into a screenplay.” Enid’s movie-going fans might be hoping she’ll lose that struggle and grace her audience with another thoughtful film.