Evergreen: “A Spellbinding Experience”
By Andrew Emerson
In most movies, a remote mountain facility is a place where something scary or violent happens. The Overlook Hotel drove Jack Nicholson murderously mad in The Shining. At Minnie’s Haberdashery, the men in The Hateful Eight shot each other to death. The Swiss asylum in A Cure for Wellness was the site of ghastly medical experiments. And so on.
In Joe Duca’s Evergreen, by contrast, a mountain cabin provides the setting for a simple – yet deeply impactful – relationship drama. When the film opens, a young, unmarried couple named Paul (Tanner Kalina) and Gena (Amanda Maddox) is en route to Colorado’s Western Slope, where they plan to spend Christmas together on a large ranch.
It soon becomes apparent, however, that Paul and Gena’s relationship is in for trouble. Paul, we’re told, is a practicing Catholic who doesn’t like premarital sex. Gena, on the other hand, has no such qualms – and on this particular trip, she’s really hoping that they’ll get physically intimate.
In depicting these up and downs, Evergreen not only avoids the cheesy and definitive resolutions you often see in romance movies, but it also becomes quite poignant.
Carrollton, Plano natives produce award-winning film
By Victoria Atterberry
Justin Graver and Kristin Jones recently decided to take the plunge and put their cinematic skills to the test to produce their own film. With a slew of awards under their belts, the pair’s efforts are paying off.
Graver, a Plano Senior High School graduate, and Jones, a Prince of Peace Christian School graduate, produced the indie film “Evergreen,” along with a production team.
Filmed on a 3,000-acre Colorado ranch, “Evergreen” tells the story of how an interfaith couple’s relationship is put to the test during a Christmas weekend. The film won best picture at the Houston Broadcast Film Critics Association as well as best foreign film and audience choice at the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase. It also received awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Hunter Mountain Film Festival in Hunter, New York.
Jones said the idea of the film came from lead actor Tanner Kalina, who pitched the idea to lead producer Marshall Kistner. She said the two were eager to make the movie and brought her and Graver on board. After two years of producing the movie in their free time and without pay, the two are excited the film is doing so well and are hoping even more people can see it.
“It feels incredible, and it feels very validating,” Jones said. “Making a movie and getting it to where it is today involves making a lot of sacrifices of time and getting to enjoy our life. Having it be so well received at festivals definitely makes it all worth it.”
Graver said they're hoping the film can serve as a calling card for them to help them make another film.
Jones said the hope is that viewers will have an intimate look at two people in a committed relationship. “They have a difference in religious views, but they are still having these conversations,” she said. “We really hope that viewers can enjoy this whether you’re religious or not.”
Case Study: The Making of Evergreen
By Oladapo Bamidele
Set against the rustic winter backdrop of the Colorado Western Slope, “Evergreen” is an intimate character study of an interfaith couple’s relationship over a tumultuous Christmas weekend. Paul and Gena have been in a committed relationship for over a year and are at a pivotal point in their lives. Paul is a modern day Catholic, whereas Gena is anything but; Paul wants marriage, while Gena needs physical intimacy and to take their relationship to the next level. When expectations clash, the two set aside their prior notions and agree to a brutally honest, no-holds-barred weekend of “question-and-answer,” unearthing long-buried secrets and manifestations from relationships past.
The story carries underlying themes of identity, memory, love, and loss to reflect how individuals conquer external battles and internal grief with the common goal of finding harbor within each other. “Evergreen” takes a hyper-realistic look behind the veil of a common, modern relationship and reveals how the boundaries and barriers that define our conditional love can be stripped down to reveal deeper truths.
Interview: Joe Duca, Director of Evergreen Unveils his Award Winner
By Oladapo Bamidele
indieactivity : Introduce your film briefly.
Joe Duca : “Evergreen” is the story of an almost-thirty-something couple: Paul, a conservative Catholic guy, and Gena, a more progressive, agnostic woman, who head to Paul’s family cabin in Colorado for a romantic Christmas getaway. Paul plans on proposing, Gena thinks they’re going to have sex (finally). Suffice it to say, they have different expectations.
After those expectations clash, they decide to swear off anything physical for the weekend, and engage in a high stakes game of truth-or-dare without the dare, each having to answer any question the other asks with complete honesty. This tests their relationship, revealing intimate, repressed traumas and memories of past loves. It’s a story about identity, ideological differences, and acceptance of a universal truth: you can either run from or heal your past, but you can’t hide from it.
As it’s a romantic drama exploring a lot of heavy stuff like sex, grief, and religion (the impolite stuff you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table), we really strove for a hyper-realistic sensibility. It’s funny when it’s funny and heavy when it’s heavy, so we just tried to let it be what it was and get out of the way, striving for a similar tone as films like “Blue Jay” by the Duplass Brothers or Linklater’s “Before” Trilogy.
BIS Reviews: Evergreen
By Beth Williby
We at Blessed is She were given the awesome opportunity to preview a new feature film made by indie filmmaker, Tanner Kalina. His movie, Evergreen, recently won several awards (including best actress and best picture) at the Houston WorldFest Film Festival. Knowing nothing about the filmmaker, the actors, or even the movie itself, I sat down to give it a go.
Any and all expectations I had about this movie were swiftly defied by what I witnessed on screen. This was no shiny piece of contemporary Christian filmmaking! Evergreen is raw, gritty even. The cinematography has a distinctly “indie film” vibe to it. And there is coarse language, sexual situations (no nudity), and drug use in the story.
I may have been expecting something along the lines of Fireproof, but what I got was something a lot hotter.
Paul and Gena are a young-ish couple who are heading to his parents’ cabin in the mountains of Colorado to celebrate Christmas together. Paul is a devout Catholic and Gena is a fallen-away Catholic who, due to serious issues in her youth, has sworn off the Faith for good.
It is easy to see right away that, while this couple is very much in love and well-suited in many ways, their issues run deep and are very serious. Tensions rise early in the film when Gena wants to have sex with Paul, and Paul, as much as he obviously wants to share that with Gena, clings to what he believes and refuses.
This is the catalyst that leads the couple into serious conversations about what they both really want from their relationship and their future.
Here’s My Movie Review
Moral of the story: If you're going to break up with somebody in a remote location, make sure you have a way to get home. I was pleasantly surprised at this indie, original, layered dysfunctional love story.
Yep, I give it 4 out of 5 forever greens.
Evergreen is an Important Film in an Era Dominated by Superheroes
By Michael Douglas Carlin
Superheroes have been the box office evergreen. In fact, there is no doubt that Avengers is arguably the most important film of the year and we have more than half of the year remaining so that is a pretty bold statement. However, dollar for dollar invested, a new film, "Evergreen” may be a much more significant film in return on investment rankings. A microbudget film will certainly make this one of the most profitable films in Hollywood history. Careers will be started or made as this film parades out and collects awards and may often be mentioned in the same company as Avengers: Endgame.
As Disney has absorbed Fox and taken out a seven-year lease on the Fox lot in West LA, the MegaMovie Powerhouse is hauling in billions off a single movie release of Avengers. Goliath sized movie franchises are now stacked up like cordwood in Burbank spilling over into Century City, loaded in the quiver, set to release, in Disney’s digital streaming platform that will become an instant hit.
The cottage industry has truly grown up. The ante is staggering as competing studios examine their dwindling chip stacks at the content creation final poker table. Disney is the chip leader and several established names are down to the proverbial chip and a chair.
Some estimates of Avengers Endgame put the production budget at $400 Million. That is a lot of cheese on the butcher’s block and the proof is in the global box office numbers that are immune to the emotionally manipulated storyline, audiences paid to experience.
But for every Goliath, a David emerges. The bigger the giant, the greater our astonishment that something so well-crafted can emerge from humble beginnings.
EVERGREEN  Review: A Poignant Depiction of Love and Relationships
By Suvo Pyne
When a film is primarily set around two people and in one solitary location, it tests the depth of writing and direction. Director/writer Joe Duca does a pretty decent job at that. Evergreen is about a couple who decides to spend Christmas at a secluded cabin by the mountains. Although being a convenient premise for a horror film; the only ‘horror’, if we can exaggerate a bit, for the couple is their respective pasts.
It is the pasts of the couple that prompts conflicts, both between the characters and within them. ‘Evergreen’ addresses the conflicts with enough maturity and emotion so that it becomes engaging. The film doesn’t fail to produce the tentativeness of a blooming romance, the hint of the awkwardness of a first date and the freshness of a relationship growing.
And swiftly it revolves and produces the reminiscences of the past love, jealousy and ideological conflict in a relationship. One has to praise the screenwriting and the conversations that were written. The direction is subtle and deft to garner the poignancy that the film required. With subtle jump cuts and clever dialogues, the pitfalls of the relationship of the central characters are there for us to see.
Indie Film Evergreen is Something New…
By Adrienne Thorne
When one of the producers of the indie film Evergreen emailed me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their film, I didn’t make any promises. I said I would gladly watch it, but I figured if I didn’t like it I’d just gracefully refrain from following up with a review.
But then I watched it. And I was kind of blown away by it for a few different reasons.
It’s a very simple, kind of unexciting-sounding idea: a dating couple spends a weekend together by themselves and decide to dig deep into the questions they need to answer for one another before their relationship can progress.
The entire thing has only four actors, and it’s mostly dialogue. And yet, it’s compelling and entertaining, and ultimately kind of heart-wrenching.
Indie Film “EVERGREEN” Takes Top Prize at 52nd WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival
First-time filmmakers take home four awards, most of the night at prestigious Houston film festival.
Houston, Apr. 14, 2019 — At the Saturday evening Awards Gala for the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, the Houston Film Critics Society presented the final awards of the night to the romantic drama “Evergreen,” including the evening’s top prize, Best Picture.
The film was also awarded Best Actress (Amanda Maddox) and Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Grace Applegate), as well as the WorldFest-Houston’s Gold Remi Award in the feature film category.
The first-time filmmakers behind “Evergreen” – director Joe Duca and producers Marshall Kistner, Justin Graver, Kristin Jones, and Savvas Yiannoulou – were in attendance to accept the awards, along with Tanner Kalina and other key members of the film’s cast and crew…
Exclusive Interview: The Cast of ‘Evergreen’ Talks Filmmaking, Critical Reception, and their Story
By Mark Ziobro
At The Movie Buff, we recently had the chance to sit down and watch “Evergreen,” starring Amanda Maddox, Tanner Kalina, Olivia Grace Applegate, and David Bianchi. The film is about a couple who spends their Christmas vacation in a remote cabin in the winter wilderness, and the tough relationship conversations they get into as they try and understand their bond and work through a number of relationship issues.
The film’s couple is both authentic and real, and sold to us through the film’s acting, production, and set pieces.
We had the opportunity to talk to several members of the cast of “Evergreen” recently, as well as Marshall Kistner, a member of the production team, and Joe Duca, the film’s director. We thank Marshall and team for participating in this interview. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a reply in the comment section below…
The Movie Buff | Evergreen Movie Review (2019)
By Mark Ziobro
“Evergreen” defied my expectations at least twice during its runtime; but this alone isn’t what makes it such a remarkable picture. Not since the film “London,” starring Chris Evans and Jessica Beil, have I seen a movie that drills down the nitty gritty of relationships so well. No, not the good parts – though they are there – and not even the bad parts, which are also there. But the idea of it, the ‘thing’ that makes an onscreen representation, that makes two actors driven by dialogue and direction by another person, seem to have an authentic relationship. “Evergreen” makes you feel that you are watching a real couple. Its other achievements, of which there are many, pale in comparison to this unmistakable feat.
This is a movie, like the aforementioned “London,” or David Gordon Greene’s remarkable “All the Real Girls” that doesn’t focus on meet cutes and romantic gestures, but paints its canvas of love with real conversations and hardships which make these people more than characters, but real individuals. Their names are Gena and Paul, and are played flawlessly by Amanda Maddox and Tanner Kalina, written to near perfection by Kalina himself, Joe Duca (who also directs), and Marshall Kistner. This is a relationship film through and through, 99% of it taking place with little save tough conversations between Gena and Paul. Two other actors find their way into the mix: David Bianchi and Olivia Grace Applegate, who figure into the film in illusory ways that are better left to the viewer to discover rather than any desperate spoiler this writer could offer…
Independent film makers coming to Meeker Dec. 10, 17
By Niki Turner
MEEKER — Meeker is headed for the silver screen, thanks to two independent filmmakers who came to visit and fell in love with the town. Tanner Kalina and Joe Duca are living out their childhood dreams of making movies. Kalina, originally from Texas, has been working in the industry for a while, last seen in Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some” (2016).
“The Daffy” is Kalina’s brainchild, and it’s the first feature film he and his writing partner/producer Marshall Kistner are producing by themselves. Kalina will also be the lead actor in the film. Duca is originally from Virginia. “The Daffy” is his second independent feature.
The film is the story of a young couple who spend a weekend at a family cabin at Christmas, only to find they aren’t “entirely on the same page” with each other…