By Samantha Williams
“Kate Plays Christine” was a powerful documentary that was played at the Clairidge Cinema as part of the Montclair Film Festival. The film was based on a true story from the 70’s. A Morning news talk show host, Christine Chubbuck was very depressed with her life and committed suicide live on camera in 1974. There was a technical difficulty of footage that wouldn’t roll and she took out her gun announcing an attempted suicide would take place in which she shot herself in the head. The footage of this was never released and is to this day, unobtainable. The director Robert Greene, heard about this story and wanted to create a film on it.
“In 2004, my very good friend Nathan Getgood told me about this story and we were going to make the film together and ultimately he went in another direction and he sort of gave me the blessing to make the film.” Greene said.
Greene’s friend, Kate Lyn Sheil, was the actress in the film who was set to portray Christine and reenact what would have been the suicide. Throughout the documentary, Sheil had to work with very little knowledge of Christine so she interviewed many different people including the place where Christine bought her gun, people she worked with, and she even went to Christine’s house. Sheil had to learn as much as she could in order to figure out how to play the role as Christine. A lot is learned throughout the film and there is even a shocking twist at the end. Filmmaker Onur Tukel enjoyed the film and expressed what he felt was the meaning behind it.
“Robert Greene is a fascinating director and filmmaker. I love that Robert has an obsession with this woman who killed herself on air. It’s Kate playing Christine, but it’s actually Kate playing Robert. Kate is the journalist that Robert is, trying to pinpoint why we have this obsession with this morbid suicide on air. So [Robert] is asking questions about himself… what’s his own fascination with this? And for me it felt like it was a way for him to have closure on a video tape that he’ll never be able to see.” Tukel said.
A first time festival goer, Henry Stasiewski, saw eleven films so far and said “Kate Plays Christine” was indeed was of his favorites.
“My favorite part was the first time in the film where they walked out of the documentary and go into dramatic reenactment.” Stasiewski said.
Greene said it took 5 to 6 months to develop the film, then three weeks to shoot starting in July, followed by editing and having it accepted into the Sundance Film Festival in October which is very quick! He also gave advice to young aspiring filmmakers.
“No one can tell you how to make a good movie. Experience things and watch movies and just go out with cameras and shoot stuff. Just do as much as you can and see as much as you can because there’s no one who’s going to give you any sort of blue print. Know that you have to be very passionate about your stories or you’re not going to get them done and no one is going to care. Diving in deeply is all you can really do.” Greene said.