Q&A with Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky moderated by Ted Hope!

Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (Frozen River, The Fighter) is unforgettable in the title role of this starkly powerful first fiction feature by documentary filmmakers Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky (The Patron Saints). Newly released from prison, Francine (Leo) tries to start a new life for herself in a small rural town where she takes on a series of jobs–at a pet store, a farm, and a vet’s office–that bring her into close contact with animals. Francine finds herself able to relate to these small creatures with an intimacy that everyday human interactions seem to stifle in her, gradually coming to share her small home with a sizable menagerie of furry creatures. Employing a terse narrative style that recalls the films of the Dardenne brothers, Francine brings us intensely close to the emotional truth of this fragile woman while leaving the specific details of her past intentionally mysterious. On screen in nearly every frame, Leo proves more than up to the challenge, recalling the great stars of the silent screen in her fiercely expressive, largely wordless performance. An official selection of this year’s Berlin and South By Southwest film festivals.