Despite the Gods
“A low budget docu-delight... Lynch is the beating, empathic heart of the film, an endearing combination of raw emotional honesty and self-deprecating humor” — Samantha Chater, INDIEWIRE
"As a piece of entertainment and as a warning for young filmmakers, Despite the Gods works on both fronts. A truly fascinating film." — Kirk Haviland, ENTERTAINMENT MAVEN
“With all the difficulties and challenges in making a feature film, it is quite amazing any of them actually get made.” Jennifer Lynch, back in 1993, was the youngest American woman to direct a feature film and her father David was very much a cult legend at that point. BOXING HELENA was fraught with pressures and production troubles but 20 years later has found a cult audience. After an extended hiatus, Lynch came back with the prize-winning SURVEILLANCE in 2008. DESPITE THE GODS offers a very intimate and candid look at the now seasoned Ms. Lynch as she attempts her third, and by far the most ambitious feature — a six-million-dollar co-production between America and Bollywood, shot on location in India, featuring major stars Mallika Sherawat and Irfann Khan. To say that her horror fantasy film about the country’s legendary snake-woman, HISSS, goes awry while Lynch does her three months in India is a spectacular understatement.
In the spirit of LOST IN LA MANCHA and OVERNIGHT, Penny Vozniak, friend of one of the producers hired on to do behind-the-scenes on HISSS, ended up chronicling Lynch slowly losing her grip over a much-extended eight-month shoot. Chaos and confusion are nothing new to film sets (or any creative process) but Lynch’s trial-by-fire of the Bollywood experience involves the language barrier, an antagonistic producer, and a never-ending battle with nature and the urban culture of celebrity. To top things off, Lynch, who is a single mom, has her 13-year-old daughter Sydney in tow for the ride. Vozniak’s unflinching camera catches Lynch flummoxed by her situation to which she all but admits that she is out of her depth. Nevertheless, movies — especially documentaries — can be magnificent empathy machines and one cannot help but feel that all of the furious confusion is actually a growth opportunity in disguise. Lynch soldiers on, trying to achieve her vision her way while still parenting her daughter (and her crew) on set, and the irony is not lost that HISSS is a feminist take on a foreign culture, in and of itself. “This is mayhem. This is India. Isn’t it beautiful?”
— Kurt Halfyard