THE BLACK SHEEP INTERVIEW: BRIT MARLING (THE EAST)
An interview with THE EAST writer and star, Brit Marling.
The East is an environmental thriller about a group of anarchists whose mission is to point out the hypocrisy of big business to the world, by forcing the people responsible to suffer the same fates they have inflicted on the environment and its inhabitants. They live in an abandoned home in the forrest; they wear whatever they can find; and they get their meals from discarded food in grocery store dumpsters. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the irony of interviewing the film’s star and co-writer, Brit Marling, at the Shangri-La in Toronto, one of the city’s newest 5-star luxury hotels.
“I think we should go room service diving, like eat food off all the leftover room service trays,” Marling jokes, apparently also aware of this particular surreality. “Doesn’t that seem right for this film?”
At the very least, the half eaten room service offerings would probably be a step up from what Marling has been dining on in the past. Back in 2009, Marling, who will turn 30 this August, along with her writing partner and The East director, Zal Batmanglij, lived lives that weren’t so dissimilar to those of the characters they have created here. Well, except for the violent anarchist stuff, that is.
“I was interested in acting but didn’t know how to go about it. Zal had graduated from film school but couldn’t get a job. We were just at a point in our lives where we didn’t really know what to do with them and we were broke,” explains Marling. “We were reading a lot about anarchists and the freegan movement so we just hit the road with backpacks. We didn’t have any money so we learned to train hop and we stayed on different organic farms and fell in with a group of anarchists in a bunch of different cities.”
- Marling, with director, co-writer and best friend, Zal Batmanglij
The freegan movement, in case you aren’t already familiar with it, which in all likelihood, you aren’t, is an anti-consumerist ideology which practices the “reclaiming”, and subsequent eating, of discarded food. Now, this might sound repulsive to you and I, but to hear Marling talk about it, you might start thinking you’re actually the crazy one.
“We learned to dumpster dive, which sounds, of course, when you say it, like really gross,” Marling begins, without even shifting in her seat. “But when you do it, it is really just packaged food that is expired and that is being moved out because more packaged food is coming in. It was basically an exercise in realizing how much abundance there is in the waste of our culture. I ate some of the best vegan meals of my life!”
This interview was originally published on The Toronto Film Scene. Click the link to read the rest now.