by director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij
“To expose or ridicule the falseness, sham or exaggerated claims of.” So goes the definition of “debunk” according to the American Heritage dictionary.
Wikipedia suggests that the term is, “closely associated with skeptical investigation of controversial topics such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena and conspiracy theories.”
In Sound of My Voice we follow a debunker: Peter and his co-conspirator Lorna as they infiltrate a fringe group meeting in a basement in the San Fernando Valley of California.
What amazes me about Peter is that he believes he can debunk through infiltration without getting bruised. But that proves nearly impossible. In order to be allowed deeper into the group he must prove his loyalty. Peter has to not only pretend to believe, he must actualize that belief. But then, where does the line get drawn? Of course, it doesn’t and soon the debunking is a ritual of its own—a cult of its own.
At the center of the group sits Maggie, a young woman who claims to be dying from her travels that got her to the basement. According to Maggie she has come back in time from the year 2054. Her claims are so preposterous and yet her person so otherworldly that we, the audience, become complicit in Peter’s desire to burrow deeper. We too want to know Maggie’s secrets.
My writing partner Brit Marling (who also plays Maggie) and I wrote the screenplay for our story during an uncertain time for us both. We were committed to seeking out a life in the movies but didn’t know how or where to find our place. Sound of My Voice is not only Peter and Lorna’s story of trying to break into Maggie’s cult. But also our own search for a tribe.