The East   

by director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij

In the sticky months of July and August 2009, Brit Marling and I delved into a rich and unexpected summer on the road. It never felt hot—maybe the blast of freedom was too strong for us to notice the heat or maybe because we didn’t encounter air-conditioning our bodies and minds simply adjusted. Whatever the reason, we found ourselves more focused on the people we were meeting than on our body temperature.

We encountered tribes across the country. These were bands of young people living communally—caring for each other, feeding one another with meals made from food headed for a landfill (50% of the world’s food is wasted). They lived on farms made up of wrecked lots on an abandoned block at the edge of a once prosperous American city. They lived in forgotten houses where 19th century details met generations of graffiti. These houses weren’t spruced up or turned around for a profit. These houses were filled with people finding each other. They came from different places and had different backgrounds but they believed in the power of the tribe.

By the time Brit and I returned to Los Angeles a fear in us had died. We weren’t afraid anymore of how hot the kitchen gets, or of rejection or of not being given permission.

We instead tapped into the free, natural abundant resource all around us: other people who wanted to do what we wanted to do—to make movies. And two extraordinary things happened: we made our first feature film Sound of My Voice tribally—without adult supervision or permission—and we wrote another film because what happened to us in the summer of 2009 was too powerful to live only in memory. We grafted our anxieties, the freedom we felt on the road and the thriller genre into a film called The East. That film opens today in theaters.

May 31, 2013

Director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij and star/co-writer Brit Marling

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