Sep 20, 2021
After surviving a breakthrough case of COVID, Dennis returns with this Zoom with filmmaker Wes Hurley whose delightful autobiographical film Potato Dreams of America is currently playing the festival circuit and will be released in 2022. The film tells the story of how he moved from Eastern Russian at 16 when his mother became a mail order bride for an American man in Seattle. He talks about his decision to use magical realism to tell his own story, using two sets of actors to play the mother and son characters and how he came to cast Mean Girls Jonathan Bennett, Orange Is the New Black's Lea Delaria and Love Boat's Lauren Tewes is key supporting roles. He talks about how American movies shaped his childhood in Russia and becoming obsessed with Gregg Araki's gay classic The Living End...but renting it in secret so his stepfather wouldn't find out he's gay. He also recalls what it was like when he first came to the U.S., the challenge of making friends, his mom helping meet other gay people and how he learned English by immersion. Other topics include: Keanu Reeves in tighty-whities, rebelling by listening to Marilyn Manson, Freddie Mercury being huge in Russia, what it took to get the movie made, his Russian grandmother's visits to Seattle, how getting a hotel room from a film festival made him feel legit, the grant he received that changed the game and the times when his mother says, "Stop being so Russian."