Vancouver indie film Lawrence & Holloman is proving itself to be the Little Engine that Could, with a screening at the Cannes International Film Festival’s Marché du Film and a total of nine nominations for this year’s Leo Awards.
The dark comedy came out in 1998 as a play by Morris Panych, and depicts the relationship between Holloman, a suicidal credit collector, and Lawrence, an impossibly optimistic shoe salesman. The film version of the story is in the running for best picture, editing, sound editing, and casting at the Leos, which recognize excellence in the B.C. film and TV industries.
Matthew Kowalchuk is also nominated for best director. The actors who play Lawrence and Holloman, Ben Cotton and Daniel Arnold, respectively, are nominated for best actor, and Katharine Isabelle, who portrays the woman Holloman is lusting after, is nominated for best supporting actress.
Arnold, who aside from starring in the film also cowrote the screenplay and worked as a producer, has been involved from the very beginning. He and Kowalchuk originally thought they could make a small, no-budget film by themselves on the weekends, just for fun. Then, when they applied for and got development funding, they realized it was going to be something bigger.
“It definitely changed from ‘Let’s do this play,’ to ‘No, let’s do it as a movie that we do with no budget,’ and then, ‘Oh, okay, we’re doing it as a movie with budget. Awesome!’” Arnold told the Georgia Straight. “That’s kind of how it went.”
“It was a lot of hard, hard work, oh my God, but yeah, it’s totally exciting to see it, you know, getting awards and stuff. It’s awesome.”
The showing at the Cannes International Film Festival’s Marché du Film is something he is particularly proud of, although he is quick to point out that being part of the Marché du Film isn’t quite the same as actually having a showing at Cannes itself.
“All the normal people in my life, they know what the Cannes film fest is, so it’s a definite step,” Arnold says. “They say ‘Oh, you made a little movie,’ and then ‘Oh, it’s actually at Cannes,’ and you have to tell them, ‘It’s not in the official screenings with all the big famous movies, but yes, it is there, it is screening at the market.’”
It's been a big year for Arnold, as he also recently won a Super Channel Screenplay Award, which gives him $50,000 (or more, depending on the film's budget) to produce a film based on his screenplay Any Night, which he co-wrote with Medina Hahn. This financing comes before the film has a producer or director attached to it, which is unprecedented in Canada.
Lawrence & Holloman has also garnered praise on the festival circuit, winning awards for best director of a comedy (Matthew Kowalchuk) and best actor in a comedy (Daniel Arnold) at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival, in Victoria, Texas, April 2014, and best comedy at the RxSM Self-Medicated Film Expo in Austin, Texas in March 2014.
The film also won an award for best emerging director at its world premiere at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival and the best Canadian feature, Rising Star prize for acting (Ben Cotton) and filmmaker at the Edmonton International Film Festival 2013.
Now that the film is proving its worth at festivals in North America, Lawrence & Holloman is going international. Arnold has showings lined up in both China and Australia, and is hoping the increased attention will lead to greater demand for the film’s distribution.
As of right now, though, if you’re interested in seeing the movie, you’re going to have to wait. Arnold promises that hopefully Lawrence & Holloman will soon be coming to a theatre near you, but he also suggests that you keep up to date with the latest news via Lawrence & Holloman’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.