Producer Lisa G. Black, a former Edison native, had her latest film “The Bird Catcher” open the 2019 Garden State Film Festival at Convention Hall in Asbury Park on March 29.
Bringing in four awards, “The Bird Catcher” was recognized for International Narrative Feature and its cinematography. Actor Sarah-Sofie Boussnina was recognized as “Best Actress,” and actor Jacob Cedergren was recognized as “Best Supporting Actor.”
Producer Lisa G. Black also received the “Exceptional Women in Film Award.”
“The Bird Catcher” is a suspenseful, coming of age story set against the backdrop of violence and prejudice. It’s inspired by the little-known actual stories of Norwegian Jews during World War II that have never been told. This film uncovers a hidden slice of history that grips at the heart and inspires us all at the deepest level – it’s a profound fable of identity and loss, of forced migration and the cost of war, according to a release from the production company.
Black, who started her own production company – Garnet Girl, LLC – in 2008 has developed nine other feature-length films in the past decade.
“I jumped into fully producing feature-length films as well as consulting for not only major producers in the industries, but also for countries who were looking to attract producers like myself to do co-ventures,” Black said. “I am very proud that I have been able to sustain this. I’m proud of what I have been able to do, and I have created a niche for myself in mastering how to marry projects here.”
Black went to several different countries working on different projects and eventually found herself in Norway in 2010. After being introduced to several stakeholders, Black submitted a proposal to the Norwegian Ministry of Culture giving them insight on how to better do business with the United States.
Together, Black, fellow producer Brandi Savitt and the stakeholders developed and launched the U.S.-Norway Film Development Initiative. Through the initiative, the team held a script competition where they found “The Bird Catcher.”
“‘The Bird Catcher’ was developed by myself and all of the stakeholders in Norway, as well as Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby – they’re our writing team – they actually did a script polishing summit with the [film’s] writer, Trond M. K. Venaasen,” she said. “After when I took the project over, it took from 2011 until when we went into production in 2016 to get the film made.”
After needing more funds to finish the film, managing director of Motion Picture Capital – a financial production company – Leon Clarence was brought on board to join Black and Savitt on the team to go into production with the Norwegians, who brought director Ross Clarke to the film.
“It’s extremely humbling,” Black said. “I’m humbled because the people who I have been able to work with from directors and writers to the actors and the crew all do their part. It really takes a village to make a film happen. I am proud of the fact that I have partnered with people who have great creative vision because everything starts with a great script. I’m also proud of the fact that I have built solid and long-term relationships with folks from all sides of the trajectory. I’m humbled and grateful that I have made films that I am proud of because of the entire team.”
“The Bird Catcher” had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January, but for Black that will not compare to the film premiering in her home state.
“To have the east coast premiere with the Garden State Film Festival makes me unbelievably happy,” she said. “My whole family and friends and childhood friends are all coming to the opening night. The festival has been so supportive. When they called me, they called me personally with the entire board to tell me that they chose my film to open up their festival. It is a tremendous honor, and it’s a tremendous honor to the film because the film is about holocaust survivors and their true stories. It is fiction but is also highlighting the fact that we can never forget these stories and these stories need to be told. [The festival] appreciated this film for all of it – for the story, for the acting, for the cinematography, the directing – and that means the world to me that they chose it for opening night.”