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Film tells a neo-Nazi love story

Glen Heinrich-Wallace Record intern
Ned (Jeremy Renner) gazes longing into the eyes of Rachael (Gabrielle Union). Despite appearances, the swastika does not stand between them. Photo: courtesy Van Fischer.
5Neo-Ned

The plot of "Neo Ned" is jolting: a Nazi Skinhead living in a psychiatric ward meets a black woman who claims to be channeling the spirit of Hitler. Guess what happens next. After falling in love they break out go to live together. Although this Slamdance feature has a shocking premise, the story does not dwell on the fact that its hero is a Nazi, but uses that situation as a springboard to launch into the themes of love, trust, and change. "’Neo Ned’ is not about neo-Nazis, it is not about Hitler," says producer David Allen in press materials, "it’s about people who find a friendship and love where they are least expecting it." Director Van Fischer’s first film "Blink of an Eye" screened at the 2000 Slamdance festival. That same year he ran across the script to "Neo Ned," which won in the screenwriting competition and optioned it immediately. "It was easy to get talent attached to it because it is such an actor’s piece," said Fischer. "It was finding funding that was the hard part." What followed was a three-year journey to find an actor, then the necessary finances, then another actor because the one he had found had grown tired of waiting for funding. "It took a long time," said Fischer. It was the second round of casting that sent Jeremy Renner, who has appeared in "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things," "S.W.A.T.," "Lords of Dogtown," and other films, to the caf where Fischer was conducting his interviews. "I had already interviewed 15 or 20 actors when I had this interview with Renner. He was about twenty minutes late and I was sitting in the caf watching this guy out on the street. He looked really hung-over, was talking on a cell phone, and chain smoking. I just kept looking at him and said to myself, ‘I hope that’s Renner.’ And of course it was. Within 10 minutes of talking with him, I knew he was the guy I wanted to play Ned," said Fischer. After casting Remmer as the lead, Fischer quickly found Gabrielle Union, "Bring It On," "Ten Things I Hate About You," and recently "Bad Boys 2" among other films. "She was looking for a actor’s piece," said Fischer with a laugh, "she was tired of running and jumping all over the place." Once this cast was set, and Allen had provided funding, the film quickly came together. "There was only about three weeks of pre-production," said Fischer, "and a 21 day shoot." "Neo Ned" debuted last year at the Tribeca Film Festival. "I was really concerned with what the black audience would think," said Fischer. "I got a lot of nasty e-mails asking about how I could direct something so racist. But I got huge support once it premiered. Lots of people told me that it was accurate, like what they had seen in situations themselves." Fischer grew up in a small town in Washington where mild racism was the norm, a setting not unlike that that Ned was raised in. "The really cool thing about this movie is that it makes you think," said Fischer. "Ned says all these terrible things, but he isn’t really a racist. He just didn’t know that it wasn’t all right. I think a lot of people think a little racism is OK because they’ve only really been exposed to one culture." Said Fischer, "I hope people see the film so they can gain a little exposure." "Neo Ned" will play at 10a.m., Jan 22 and 8:30 p.m. Jan 26. Both screenings will be in The Sitting Room Theatre at The Treasure Mountain Inn.


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