Eleanor Of Illinois
Directed By: Danielle Durchslag /
USA / 2019 / English
Short Film (up to 45 minutes) / Drama
Territory Rights: WORLD-WIDE
Exhibition Format: DCP
Original Title: Eleanor Of Illinois
Eleanor OF ILLINOIS is the most ambitious piece from BOUNTY, my film series exploring the political and psychological complexities of American Jewish wealth. For this piece, I spent over a year culling and editing dialogue from Katharine Hepburn’s performance in The Lion In Winter to craft the monologue of a contemporary, Midwestern, disappointed Jewish mother in her voice. In her performance as Eleanor of Illinois, Judy Kuhn speaks in rhythm with Hepburn’s monologue, alternately chiding and pleading with her wayward child, played silently by the camera.
Eleanor of Illinois is a meditation on what hard-won financial success has wrought, a passionate piece of experimental video art fan fiction, and a portrait of how normal family dysfunction, when combined with extreme affluence, transforms into high melodrama.
Growing up fascinated with Hepburn’s iconic Lion In Winter performance, it became a vehicle for me to process the emotional, class, and power dynamics in my own family. I grew up in a Jewish Dynasty – my grandfather founded the Sara Lee Corporation frozen dessert business. Despite the very real differences between Eleanor of Aquitane’s clan and my own, so much of the classic film story resonates with my own experience of familial control, obligation, and conflict, ultimately exploring the inherent tension between extreme privilege, and the Jewish history of oppression, and cultural silence around wealth.