Posted by Larry Gleeson
A Place in the Field made its World Premiere yesterday evening at the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, and is the feature directorial debut of female Latina, Nicole Mejia, an American Film Institute Fellow and recipient of an Audi Award Scholarship.
Mejia tackles a difficult subject with tenderness and grace. Post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran suicide have a long history with our nation’s war efforts. Films such as the Marlon Brando led The Men to tend to portray these issues in cold and harsh depictions. Mejia gently offers another way of coping experientially without debilitating pharmaceuticals and/or intensive cognitive psychotherapy – both of which arguably can exacerbate the underlying condition with unwanted and oftentimes debilitating side effects.
Don DiPetta portrays Gio the film’s central character, an Afghanistan combat veteran, and true to the character displays an intense focus – one that his employer likes to put to good use! Notwithstanding, flashbacks of battlefield situations are surfacing calling out for resolution.
Gio’s attentive girlfriend, Jessica, portrayed convincingly by Mishel Prada, notices Gio’s condition and suggests a move to the city. Gio isn’t ready – until he receives his battle buddy’s ashes and a farewell suicide note bidding Gio go to the places they had always talked about during their war-time mission.
So Gio with his strong sense of commitment to duty and to loyalty sets out to fulfill his battle buddy’s dying wish. Along the way, Gio meets colorful characters while discovering holistic and experiential coping mechanisms allowing him to reconcile the unresolved conflicts from his battlefield experience.
Gio completes his “stateside mission” in spreading his battle buddy’s ashes. Through the experience, the actions taken, the words spoken, and the colorful characters engaged, Gio comes out the other side ready to face the new challenges ahead with his civilian life. Interestingly, Director Mejia also embodied the role of Pavla, a captivating shaman/goddess, who gently steers Gio toward the challenging path of healing without any reservations after a mechanical failure with his vehicle.
I have not seen a bad film at the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival – and I have seen several thus far. I will say right now – A Place in The Field is exquisite! It is beautifully shot by Kadri Koop – full of symbolism and metaphors, spoken and unspoken. Khori Ellis is credited as the writer with Don DiPetta, Xochitl Portillo, and Bluesmon Del Vecchio receiving writing credits also. The casting is spot-on as DiPetta looks and personifies, Gio, with grace and ease. The supporting cast all look the part. Kuddos to Costumer Kaja Sondergaard.
In addition, the soundtrack adds subtle ambiance and augments and amplifies tone in various scenes with a Southwestern musical sensibility. Matt Glanvill and Miguel Angel Rodriguez are credited with sound. A Place in The Field is produced by Heliya Alam, Niyah Edwards, Michael Fishman, Nikki Mejia, along with a slew of executive producers including Don DiPetta.
A Place in The Field is a “must-see” selection for the 2022 Santa Barbara Film Festival! The film is scheduled for a second screening at 2:40 P.M. on Monday, March 7th, 2022, at the Metro 4 in Auditorium 3. Get there! You’ll be glad you did!
Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!