2016 Los Angeles Film Festival
Written and directed by Amber Sealey, No Light and No Land Anywhere (2016) had its World Premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival’s and won the LA Muse Special Jury Award. English-born and New Mexico raised, Sealey was the female lead in her two earlier films, A Plus D (2008) and How to Cheat (2011) which screened at the festival. This time, she stays behind the camera and directs newcomer Gemma Brockis in an unforgettable performance.
Lexi (Brockis) is a Londoner in Los Angeles searching for the father who abandoned her and her mother years before. She doesn’t do it the easy way with the internet and transatlantic phone calls. She just shows up in town with an old address and hopes for the best.
When money runs short, she begins hustling out of her motel, leading to some of the most uncomfortable sexual encounters ever captured on film. This isn’t how well-mannered British tourists behave. Guided by Sealey, Brockis holds nothing back, showing both emotional need and an ability to take charge.
Chrome Yellow wrote of their collaboration:
Fleshing out Sealey’s observational approach is an intense performance from Gemma Brockis. She grounds the film’s extraordinary premise with a fear and confusion that feel palpable, but also a desperation fraught with longing. Very few performances completely immerse us into the internal struggle of a character the same way that Brockis’ does. There’s just so much range and understated nuance, using a physicality that can evoke anger, pain and frailty one minute, or an intimidating, feral delivery the next. Complimenting Brockis’ performance is Jennifer Lafleur, who plays Lexi’s half-sister Tanya. There’s a confrontation between the two which easily stands as the film’s emotional centerpiece, and the two are stunning in it, releasing the film’s pent-up anguish in a way that’s almost unbearable.
Lexi stakes out the house where her half-sister Tanya lives with an elderly aunt. Under a pretext, she tries to insert herself into the family. Jennifer Lafleur is the skeptical Tanya. Their father, John, a rock musician turned contractor, isn’t hiding from Lexi but he doesn’t make her search any easier, either. He’s played by Sealey’s real life father, Richard. As she said during the Q&A: “I left England when I was three with my father and my mother and so his accent is perfect because it’s a British accent but has been living in the states for the last thirty-five years. So that’s why I cast him, his slightly worn British accent.”
“Gemma and I worked together in London doing theater . . . and I always knew what an amazing actor she was.” When asked about improvisation, she replied: “The film is made from a detailed outline, ten or fifteen pages, a short novella. The scenes are detailed as I write them out but I’m a big believer in the people that you bring on board to make the movie with you, they can offer so much more than I can come up with. I hire really brilliant actors who write brilliant lines. I do a lot of directing as we’re filming. I throw lines at them and say ‘Oh, do that again. Say this that time.’ It really depends on the scene, on the actors and what we’re doing but I believe in creating almost a theatrical live moment as we’re filming.”
Justin Calen-Chenn … associate producer
Drea Clark … producer
Ricardo Diaz … associate producer
Ryan Funnell … executive producer
Adam Fynke … associate producer
Andy Holliday … executive producer
Miranda July … consulting producer / executive producer
Alysa Nahmias … producer
Katharine Relth … line producer
Amber Sealey … producer