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Parsing the human condition: Filmmaker Amber Sealey Buy Tickets Directly

Parsing the human condition: Filmmaker Amber Sealey

In her third feature film, No Light and No Land Anywhere, writer-director Amber Sealey crafts a moving, moody, and empathetic character study about a woman searching for the father who abandoned her when she was three. In Los Angeles, she meets some of life's more desperate and lonely characters, who are not really unlike her, perhaps, in their longing for a human connection. "There's something quite beautiful and powerful about the human condition, but there's also often something quite lonely," Sealey told Pasatiempo. "At the end of the day we are all alone, and when we have these intense life struggles- a birth or death or trying to find a parent, as Lexi is in this film- ultimately, we have to go on these journeys on our own."

Sealey, whose film screens as part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, was raised in Santa Fe and started her career in the arts as an actor. At seventeen, she was in a production of Hair at the James A. Little Theater that caused a bit of an uproar. "There's a big nude scene. My parents were hippies, and they were like 'Well, she's comfortable with it. It's her choice.' There was smoke and really dim lights, so you couldn't really see anything, but someone in the audience knew me, and knew I was seventeen, and they got really upset and complained, and I didn't get to do that scene."

At the University of California- Santa Cruz, she studied theater and modern dance. "I got very interested in devised theater, where you're basically coming up with your own scripts and you collaborate on the writing. Then I moved to London and did a lot of devised theater there. Part of what I would do is make video companion pieces that would go along with the live performance. I got more and more involved in the video part. From there, I made a short film. Then I made a feature film. It was a slow ... process that led to directing. I still act a little bit, but now directing is my full-time thing."

Sealey finished post-production work on No Light and No Land Anywhere in June and immediately premiered it at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won a special jury award. In the film, moments of introspection are juxtaposed with an almost documentary style of filming: hand-held camera work that pulls the audience in. Long moments without dialogue play out as Lexi searches the Los Angeles streets, ostensibly searching for her father but really searching for herself. Gemma Brockis gives a moving performance as Lexi, conveying a depth of emotion through her eyes. "For me, it was really important that Lexi be this character who thinks that finding her father is going to be the answer to her problem, and then discovering that the power for joy and finding a connection was actually within herself and not something external."

Sealey met Brockis in London. Brockis had lost her own father at a young age, which makes her performance that much more compelling. "That was a real internal thing for her going on. ... There's a piece of it that comes from my own personal life as well. I'm very close with my parents, and I talk to them almost daily on the phone. Yet there's always that disconnect between children and parents where there's a gap in communication, and even if you are close, there's always a distance there. I think that's pretty universal."

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