Back in July, I highlighted five films that would be the breakout stars of Fantasia 2020, among them was writer/director Kelsey Bollig's The Fourth Wall, and at the time of writing that article, I had no idea of the trauma Bollig had endured in the months leading up to the film's production.
The terrifying-yet-inspiring story has been brought to my attention today and the very least I can do is share it with all of you. Oh, and you may want to have some tissues on hand.
Four days before writer/director Bollig was supposed to fly to Paris to begin filming The Fourth Wall, an SUV ran over and dragged her body 30 feet while driving over 30 miles an hour.
As detailed by Bollig herself, "I remember being awake for all of it. I remember first being on top of the car, and then under it. I remember seeing the car tires come at me and feeling the concrete ripping my skin apart. I was still conscious when the car tires went over me before I passed out from the pain. I woke up on the concrete surrounded by people. I remember trying to move and hearing what sounded like bubbles popping. I found out later that it was the sound of over 30 shattered bones cracking even further. For the first three days, the ER doctors couldn’t even tell me if I was going to live. Nothing puts things into perspective like that. Nothing."
Over 30 bones were completely shattered, her lungs punctured, and her spleen and liver lacerated. Her ribs were so badly annihilated that ER doctors had to physically move the entire rib cage to insert a tube into her lungs to remove pooling blood. Over half the skin on her body was ripped off from road burn and her pelvis fractured so badly that the doctors were concerned she wouldn’t be able to walk.
Bollig spent the next three months in the hospital undergoing surgery and high-intensive physical therapy, relearning basic functions like how to sit up, feed herself, and finally, how to walk. Understandably, Bollig went through a bout of deep depression and, at her lowest point, considered giving up directing the film altogether. However Edelweiss executive producer Victoria Lacoste wasn’t hearing it.
"She wouldn’t let me put down the film. I remember trying to tell her to move on with another director and her telling me ‘We aren’t having this conversation.’ Victoria took those three months that I was recovering to push back and prepare the entire production for when I felt ready enough to travel," Bollig continued.
Just one month later with her cane in hand, Bollig finally boarded her flight to Paris to begin shooting. Now, just that part of this story alone is one hell of a comeback story, but wait, it gets even more incredible.
"When we finally started filming, I became obsessive. Nothing else mattered - just the film and it had to be perfect. The pain became secondary, even though it was beyond excruciating. Being obsessive is pretty much my normal process when filming, but with The Fourth Wall, it became a survival tactic," said Bollig. "Making The Fourth Wall felt truly like a matter of life and death. It was my way of reclaiming myself, even though I was fighting through the pain with every breath."
Lacoste’s commitment to Bollig’s vision paid off, with 5 nominations and 2 wins (Best Director at HorrorHound's Film Festival and Best Female Filmmaker at NOLA Horror) within the first two months of entering the film festival circuit!
IN OSCAR CONTENTION
Out of 6,000 submissions, only 5% were chosen as Official Selections for the Academy Award-Qualifying short film festival, HollyShorts, this November.
The Fourth Wall is one of only 300 Official Selection films that will compete for Oscar contention.
HollyShorts follows The Fourth Wall’s US Premiere (Fantasia 2020), European (Mollins November 2020), and Mexican Premiere (Morbido, October 2020).
BLURRING THE LINES OF GENRE
While The Fourth Wall gives a nod to horror archetypes within the characters themselves, the film pushes the boundaries of the horror genre in every other sense.
"You don’t need to summon classic horror to frighten people. Real life is far more terrifying than just the notion of some serial killer jumping out at you from around the corner. The everyday is scary enough - from small injustices we are taught to overlook to the horrific retaliative capabilities we all possess if pushed too far. It’s the potential of what could happen that’s most frightening. Especially when it’s present in familiar environments that we already know. This is definitely something I learned very intimately, firsthand," says Bollig.
From 30 shattered bones to Oscar consideration, Kelsey Bollig's tale of survival and success is one of the most inspiring things I've read all year, and I hope it has moved some of you to make the most of your lives and continue striving for your dreams, because it can all be taken away in an instant.
In The Fourth Wall, "Chloé is a serious actress who's spent her life on the stages of Paris. The result? She has been chipped down into a product of the scrutiny and unfair politics that infest the entertainment industry. Doomed to star in one last performance of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' Chloé fights for her moment in the spotlight amongst the self-serving newcomers with whom she is forced to share the stage. How far will she go to be the star of the show?"
The film stars Lizzie Brocheré ("American Horror Story: Asylum"), Roby Schinasi ("Gossip Girl"), Jean-Marc Barr (Nymphomaniac: Vol. II), Victoria Lacoste (Asking For A Friend) and Jacqueline Bell (Asking For A Friend).
For upcoming festival details and where to buy tickets, visit http://bit.ly/FourthWallFestivalLineup.