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‘Sac de Merde’ pokes fun at dates gone horribly wrong


The 8th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival screened an uproariously funny short film titled Sac de Merde. And yes, that’s French for “bag of shit.”

Sac de Merde tells the tale of Mazel Mankewicz, an unlucky-at-love yet irrationally optimistic New Yorker who thinks her luck has changed when she spends the night with the man of her dreams. But as their passion ignites, he reveals he has a colostomy bag. “I’ll understand if you want to leave; you wouldn’t be the first,” he tells her. Not wanting to seem like an insensitive schmuck, she stays and finds out, the next morning that the schmuck is really him and it has nothing to do with the bag he wears strapped to his abdomen.

[Watch a 2-minute clip here.]

Gabrielle Berberich and Greg Chwerchak (who also directed) did the writing. They have a definitive feel for comedy, farce and even a little slapstick. But they drew on lead actor Arielle Haller-Silverstone’s real-life experiences in the New York City dating scene for much of the storyline and characterizations.

Haller-Silverstone is a New York City based actress, filmmaker and voice coach. She recently performed the third run of her solo show, Doris Day: What Will Be, at the United Solo Theater Festival. Arielle is a Registered Rodenburg Teacher (RRT), and coaches privately with techniques based in Patsy Rodenburg’s voice work. Sac de Merde is her first short film. She is also known for Last Night (2013) and Grace of God (2013).

Sac de Merde premiered in 2018 at the Manchester International Film Festival, where it won “Staff Pick.” Since then, the film has been accepted into numerous film festivals internationally (including Raindance and the HollyShorts Film Festival) and continues to tour around the globe. Earlier this month, Sac de Merde won the Stage 32 Short Film Contest, and it is nominated for six awards at the NOVA Festival in April, including Best Short Film, Best Actress – Short Film (Arielle Haller-Silverstone), Best Director – Short Film (Greg Chwerchak), Best Screenplay – Short Film (Gabrielle Berberich and Greg Chwerchak), Best Comedy, and Best Romantic Comedy!

In fact, the film has been so well-received that it is being developed into a series, with auditions for roles already under way.

Haller-Silverstone was in town for the screening and participated in a Q&A following the film. Charming, disarming and self-deprecating, she completely won over the audience as she divulged that not only had she actually had a one-night stand with a guy who had a colostomy bag, but stirred the imagination (and not in a good way) when she added that “what happened in real life was so much worse than what we showed here.”

When she off-handedly told writer/director Greg Chwerchak about the date, he said, “You gotta make this into a movie.”

The short was originally going to be confined to this single anecdote, but as Arielle shared more of her NYC dating experiences with the writers, they expanded the script and storyboard to include additional scenes and sequences culled from Arielle’s woeful-but-drole love life.

Although she doesn’t seek out “weirdos,” they seem to have a way of finding her. For example, she recently broke it off with a guy she’d been seeing after he sent her several nude pictures of himself. She shrugs philosophically, commenting “it’s another story for the collection.”

But the film’s not about revenge or outing the assholes. “The film also shows that even though Mazie meets a lot of terrible men, she remains positive and upbeat in spite of all the shit.”

But even though she and the writers are trying to put a favorable spin on Arielle’s dates-gone-wrong proclivity, they can only hope that the film and planned series will do for them what they have for singer-songwriter T-Swift, who has built a musical empire by pouring her heartbreaks into her music. (She’s penned more than 21 songs about her exes so far.)

“Everyone has one or two stories like these,” Arielle adds. “Everyone has that one or two crazy dates. So this is like a homage to all the craziness you encounter in the dating scene.”

From start to finish, the 12-minute film took two and a half years to complete. “We were in prep quite a while. We did three days of shooting and then went back a couple of months later and did two more days of re-shoots. After that, we went into post-production and completed the editing just three days before our premiere in England last month.”

Adding to the length and complexity of the pre-production phase was all the permits that are required to shoot scenes on the streets of Manhattan. In it for the long-haul, Haller-Silverstone and the filmmaking team did everything “by the book.”

Haller-Silverstone has a Southwest Florida connection. Her dad spends a lot of time on Sanibel Island. A lot of his/their friends left the island for the screening. It was more than worth the long drive.

March 30, 2018.



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