I had the opportunity to watch the feature film version of Breakthrough Weekend by director, Sujewa Ekanayake, a film nearly two years in the making. The experience was equally surprising and delightful because I'd actually worked as a crew member on the film in New York. Filming was interrupted for two weeks due to Hurricane Sandy and its after effects. It's good to know that despite the break in shooting continuity, what the filmmaker Sujewa has created is a essentially an exercise in making a micro-budget movie unlike anything in the indie realm.
Breakthrough Weekend tells the story of philosophical detective, Sal, who has a roster of clients with special needs. Sal takes on a new protege, Yevgeny, for this particular weekend and proceeds to introduce him to the crazy whacky world that has made Sal's "particular set of skills" of great value. Yevgeny has been perpetually depressed and detached from life for much of his adult life, despite writing a successful novel, and finds himself lost, confused and the perfect candidate for Sal's rare form of sociological and metaphysical motivation. As the two private dicks bond over a literally insane weekend, Yevgeny finds solace in knowing that he's not as fucked up as he thought, and Sal continues -- business as usual -- helping a slew of New York nutjobs get their lives back on track by overcoming personal flaws.
I am a filmmaker myself and this film was wildly refreshing to me. Breakthrough Weekend is vastly different from any movie I've seen or heard of in the indie or studio realm. It's almost impossible to label it. In genre it's a comedy, but the wit is dry, delivered mostly deadpan by actor Damien Bosco. It's also spiritual and philosophical, written with a cool, welcoming literary embrace. It's also highly controversial, but those sequences are played with dexterous perfection by writer and actor alike.
I enjoy a silly comedy from time to time, but I'm always looking for smart comedies. Dumb is easy to write, but smart comedy that references intellectual topics -- some even Mensa-worthy -- is what inspires me as a filmmaker, but especially as a writer. I love it when I'm confident of exactly what film trope is being used and how the scene will end, but then I am thrown for a loop when the unexpected occurs. Breakthrough Weekend, hits these notes with near perfection. There's a scene with two film critics discussing topics for their book. The discussion hits an unfortunate personal not and devolves into an argument... and then a knife fight. Then, just when you think someone is about to get stabbed, it becomes a whole other scene. Consider me impressed!
Breakthrough Weekend stars Damien Bosco, Sean Bempong, Jennifer Blakemore and an ensemble of impressively talented up-and-coming New York City talent. Filmmaker Sujewa has created something out-of-the-box, fresh, and funny but still manages to be insightful, spiritual and educational. Breakthrough Weekend will be screening in New York during the Breakthrough Festival NYC June 12-18, 2014.