Tribeca: Karen Gillan Haunted by Tragedy in Directorial Debut 'The Party's Just Beginning'
The film, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, follows the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' actress as she struggles to connect with others and dwells on thoughts of death.
Karen Gillan may be known for her acting roles in blockbuster films like the Guardians of the Galaxy series and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but the actress is taking on a new role with her latest film, premiering at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival: director.
Gillan wrote and directed The Party's Just Beginning, which is part of the international narrative competition at the New York festival, which starts Wednesday. The Party's Just Beginning will have its international premiere at Tribeca on Sunday.
In the surreal coming-of-age tale, set in her native Scottish Highlands, Gillan stars as Liusaidh, a witty, sarcastic girl who's haunted by the suicide of her best friend. The traumatic incident causes her to spiral into a mid-twenties crisis, and she struggles to connect with others as she dwells on thoughts of mortality.
The film also stars Lee Pace, Matthew Beard, Paul Higgins, Siobhan Redmond, Jamie Quinn and Rachel Jackson.
In the above clip, debuting exclusively on THR.com, viewers see Liusaidh caught in a cycle of getting drunk, eating fries and reliving the traumatic sight of her friend's suicide. She stumbles through town until she sees a man standing on a bridge.
The image, Gillan tells The Hollywood Reporter, "haunts her, and she can’t escape it until she finally finds the strength to confront it."
Gillan explains that her real life and hometown inspired the story for her feature directorial debut.
"I wanted the first story I decided to tell to be personal. Although I have not experienced the same traumatic events you will see our lead character go through, I embedded all this fiction in aspects of my real life," Gillan says. "We shot the movie where I am from —Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland. And I’ve taken inspiration from those I grew up around. It all goes back to when I read a statistic that the suicide rates in the Highlands of Scotland — among young men — are significantly higher than in the rest of Scotland. I wanted to know why. It’s such an idyllic place to live. This film is my exploration of the reality behind this statistic."
While Gillan says acting in, directing and writing The Party's Just Beginning was "the ultimate challenge in multitasking," which she found "incredibly rewarding," she'd like to direct a film in which she's not also acting.
"Next time, I’d love to direct a film that I am not in so I can sit behind the monitor with no makeup on and watch incredibly talented people make my writing look way better," she says.