Oscar nominated actress Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Conjuring), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle) and Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March) all appear set to join the cast of Facing the Wind, a true crime story that is hoping to start production in New York City some point later this year. Joe Berlinger will the direct the feature based on the non-fiction book Facing the Wind: A True Story of Tragedy and Reconciliation by Julie Salamon. The film recounts the life of Bob Rowe, who in 1978 murdered his wife and three children. Rowe, a New York lawyer and seemingly all-around upright citizen, side-stepped a prison sentence after entering a plea of insanity. The book and the movie explore Rowe’s attempts at redemption after tragedy.
A fascinating facet to Facing the Wind comes from its director. Berlinger, a noted and accomplished documentary filmmaker, co-directed (along with Bruce Sinofsky) one of the most groundbreaking documentary series in the past several decades with the Paradise Lost films. The three films in the series (The Child Murderers of Robin Hood Hills, Revelations and Purgatory) explored the West Memphis Three, investigating the crimes they charged with and the inconsistencies of the case. The accomplishment of the films was not just in the power of the filmmaking, but also in the way they matter-of-factly prompting change within the case. The series itself has become a matter of American pop culture, also thanks the acclaimed documentary West of Memphis and the narrative feature Devil’s Knot starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth (see what we thought of the movie here). Paradise Lost: Purgatory even received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. The first film in the series won an Emmy Award.
“My documentary work is known for transcending sensational subjects to tell compelling human dramas that raise many complex questions about human relationships and behavior,” Berlinger states. “I am so honored to collaborate with this exciting cast who will excel at creating a multi-layered feature film that tackles age-old questions of guilt and redemption, retribution and forgiveness in a fresh and dramatically compelling manner.” It’s too early to say, of course, but Facing the Wind could in turn be something special within Berlinger’s filmography.
Berlinger’s other works include the acclaimed documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which explored the famed metal band under the verge of the breakdown as the members start therapy and the not so acclaimed feature film Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the much derided sequel to the popular found footage 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project. Facing the Wind will be produced by Fabrication Films with Elizabeth Fowler (Devil’s Knot) serving as the films producer alongside Berlinger. The film will be shopping for a distributor at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
Nivola, a nearly twenty year filmmaking vet of films as varied as Jurassic Park III, Laurel Canyon and Junebug, will play Rowe. He is next set to appear in J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year opposite Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Farmiga, currently starring on the A&E series Bates Motel (for which she received an Emmy nomination for last year) is set to play Rowe’s first wife and Wood is slated to play his second wife, post tragedy. Rita Wilson and Jennifer Beals are also slated to co-star.