I recently had the honor to interview a pair of truly inspiring filmmakers. It was part of a day of panels put on by my friends and colleagues at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College. Producer Judi Levine and writer/director Ben Lewin are the pioneering team (and power couple) behind the multi-award nominated and winning new movie: THE SESSIONS.
This remarkable, hilarious true-life film of a severely disabled, yet utterly disarming poet / journalist on a quest for a sexual experience may be one of my all-time favorites. The actors pull you in completely – even the tiniest cameo performances ring with truth. It tells a compelling story that is empowering and uplifting. And what a fun emotional ride!
<One of the highlights of the conversation was discussing with Ben his process of figuring out how to shoot the sex scenes. At first he imagined all the clichés, but it dawned on him that he couldn’t really relate to what he referred to as “sexual Olympians” in Hollywood movies and TV.
So he decided to take an almost documentary-style approach to the awkward scenes between Mark O’Brien (played by brilliant John Hawkes) and Cheryl Cohen Greene (played by Helen Hunt – nominated for an Oscar for this role). Their experience is so very real, funny and touching.
As I said on the panel, I believe he has created not just a wonderful film, but a healing experience for an audience – it helps people feel more relaxed about their own sexuality and insecurities.
To me this is what the greatest filmmaking is all about – beyond providing a supremely entertaining experience, THE SESSIONS has the power to change the way you think about yourself and your own life.