Home » Close to the Bone, Ian Foster’s new film, hits close to home

Close to the Bone, Ian Foster’s new film, hits close to home

by Stewart Cole

In an early verse by Ian Foster, he says, “The law of God is the law of change.” In the new film of the musician-director of Agios Ioannis, Near the bonethe divine nature of change takes center stage as it explores how the disease profoundly changes the life of an individual and his or her entire family.

The film explores a life whose horizons are limited, as Foster says, “to a couch in the kitchen and a series of stairs that could go anywhere because you can not access them.”

A long-time traveling musician, Foster believes that his stay in Portugal in 2019 gave him the mental and physical space to find inspiration for this film.

“I was somewhat exhausted in the musical direction I was taking at the time or in the journey I had taken in previous years. I needed a different perspective.”

Almost at the same time, he started making this film and writing new songs.

Foster on the set of Close to the Bone: “I’m trying to merge these worlds of film and music.” (Alex Stead / Submitted by Lynette Adams)

“There were no tour dates like that,” says Foster. “It was just to try to live a little life, to get away from home so you could really go home.”

Near the bone indeed brought Foster back home. The film’s narrative is inspired by his mother’s experience as a teenager caring for a parent who had developed rheumatoid arthritis. In it, he imagines life as a series of rooms and explores “the private things that happen in the rooms of the house that are not accessible to the wider world, what is behind these walls”.

“The movie just grew in my heart”

While Foster is best known as a singer-songwriter, he is no stranger to filmmaking. He started “organically” in the cinema, he says, through friends who made films that asked him to play them. He also began scoring films for the Newfoundland Independent Film Makers Co-Op.

“I was really fascinated by watching movies at different stages of undressing: they are usually not in color; they may not be the final tone for the dialogue. That was exciting for me.”

This early contact with cinema led him to create his first short film, Another songwas released in 2013 and followed a few years later Foundation (2016). And while working on these projects, he continued his music career.

“Different streams happened in a way, as we all do different things. And the movie just grew in my heart,” he said.

A large image of a man playing the mandolin is displayed on a wall and radiator.  To the left is a silhouette of a woman standing.
Allison Moira Kelly and Darryl Hopkins play daughter and father in Close to the Bone. (Alex Stead / Submitted by Lynette Adams)

Hybrid narration and music video

Foster says his experience in Portugal was “a moment of reflection on music and cinema and their interaction.” These two creative currents of cinema and music came together in its creation Near the boneas he captured the film while writing songs for a new album.

“Part of the disc was written, the movie appeared on the horizon and it started updating part of the other disc.”

The album, which he plans to release later this year, is musically and thematically linked to the film.

“I knew it had to be a hybrid of a narrative story and a music video.”

Foster says his simultaneous work in film and music was a “great antidote” to common problems in the studio.

He was able to draw on the contribution of Justin Simms and Michael Ciuffini, who produced the film, and Mark Turner, who is co-producing the upcoming album.

A silhouette of a woman swirling in an empty, sunny loft apartment.
Bridget Wareham plays the mother in Close to the Bone. “A lot of this arc is reflected in it,” says Foster, “changing one’s life and size and range of motion. (Alex Stead / Submitted by Lynette Adams)

You can focus on the technical aspects of achieving what you want in a sound that becomes so focused on the laser that it looks like a ‘forest for trees’ theme.

He believes that he was able to take the knowledge from each field and apply it creatively to the other.

“I try to approach music through a cinematic lens and then the opposite I think also applies: I tried to approach the film through a rhythmic musical lens.”

Foster credits its production partners with updating this crossover.

“Being forced to change gears makes you go back and listen to things again in a new way.”

“Poetry of ordinary life”

Foster hastens to pay tribute to his crew and cast Near the bonewhom he describes as “players of all the stars of the Newfoundland movie scene”.

Bridget Wareham’s portrayal of the mother character extends from her youth as a dancer to her chronically ill elderly woman.

“A lot of this arc is represented in it, the change in a person’s life and the size and range of motion,” he said. “I think the challenge of these very quick moments in life is how to infuse the weight of character through a glance.”

Allison Moira Kelly plays the daughter whose point of view is central to the narrative. Darryl Hopkins and Des Walsh play the role of father at two different ages.

“Sometimes their action is like cutting something on the kitchen table – it is ordinary life poetry. And of course, there has to be another dynamic to it all.”

Elaine Condon and Michael Rhodri Smith also appear in the film in short but shocking moments.

“To do this in these very short sequences in what is ultimately represented as years in someone’s memory, that was the challenge and I felt they did a great job.”

Close to the Bone plays at the Nickel Film Festival on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. NT

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