Announcing the September 2020 world premiere, at the Los Angeles Lift-Off Film Festival, of a film that is a labor of love!! Told across time and space (postwar France & Sweden, present day United States), THE MAKING OF A MAN creatively intercuts interviews, archival footage and segments of the classic, searing and brutal play about toxic masculinity, penned in 1947 by legendary Swedish writer Stig Dagerman.
The play, “Marty’s Shadow”, was inspired by people Stig met during a visit to Paris, a city reeling in the wake of Nazi occupation. It follows the chilling trail of a young man, bullied for being a coward, who searches for a way to become a ‘real’ man. (See the end of this post for links and details to access the film, the play – and the book, The Writer and the Refugee, which tells the story of what happened in Stig’s 1947 encounter with German-Jewish refugee Etta Federn.)
In 2017, seventy years after the play was written, it has its American premiere at the August Strindberg Repertory Theatre, off-Broadway in New York. As Stig’s daughter, Lo Dagerman (who was three when Stig died) interviews the cast, she discovers that it has struck a contemporary nerve. Jimi Stanton, who movingly portrays her father’s struggling protagonist, draws on the trauma experienced by his veteran brother in Iraq and Afghanistan. The play’s director, Whitney Aronson, is struck by how the inner life of the Jimi’s bullied character speaks directly to a United States plagued by mass shootings.
THE MAKING OF A MAN explores heroism and cowardice, and what it means to be truly courageous, through the lens of four characters. The playwright; his protagonist; the lead actor; the young French refugee who was the play’s inspiration – each character wrestles in a distinctive way with the question of what it means to be a man. Sharing their journeys, the film’s audience comes away with new insight into a profound challenge of our times.