Sherry (Ellen Page), a young runaway meets the radical street collective SPARK - Street People Armed with Radical Knowledge - while living on the streets of Europe. They introduce her to a new life filled with substance. She travels through the continent with the SPARK van, recruiting mebers from the streets gang and disenfranchised youth at raves and town squares finally settling in an abandoned vineyard in Portugal that will become their paradise.
Harry, the group’s leader begins harvesting ripe grapes and ready minds through his own methods of hard work and punishment. The stakes are high within this volatile group. Sherry is searching for a place to belong where she can still be herself. She thinks she found this in SPARK, but when her mother comes to find her, Sherry discovers that she must pay a price for rebellion.
An adventurous coming-of-age story that follows young rebellious Sherry through Europe as she loses her illusions, virginity and lip ring: Mouth to Mouth considers the fine line between acceptance and manipulation.
Statement from Alison Murray:
I left home when I was 15. The energy and vitality of youth is paramount to the film. Like me at that age, the film's heroine Sherry is searching for a place to belong where she can still be herself. She thinks she has found this in SPARK - Street People Armed with Radical Knowledge. I tried to create an organization I would want to join, SPARK was the result. Harry, SPARK's leader, says "Most organizations aimed at helping the homeless want you to fit back in, and contribute to society, like you should get off the street, into a house, into a 9 to 5 job...but maybe there's another way." To me, SPARK's appeal lies in offering those who have fallen through the cracks a chance to pull their lives together, without having to become cogs in the wheel.
The down and out characters SPARK recruits are clever, witty and sardonic. I tried to show the tenacity of these people on the margins in an irreverent, humorous way. It is the apparently craziest street person, Mad Ax, who is the least taken in by SPARK's rhetoric. He appreciates Sherry's innocence and feistiness, and falls in love with her. She rejects him, but inspires him to break out of his apathy. This strange relationship between Sherry and Mad Ax is my favorite thing in the film, a love story. Sherry leaves the group after compromising what she believes in order to find acceptance. At the end of the film she stands up for what she knows is right, aware that she will go out into the world totally alone, but with her freedom and individuality intact. Others joined the group easily prepared to give their power away, in exchange for the security and sense of righteousness that being part of a group can bring. George Orwell's Animal Farm was a classic inspiration for exploring this meeting point of politics and human nature.
Although SPARK helps some of its members, my own disillusionment with 'alternative lifestyles' is reflected in the story. In my teens I lived for several years in squatted buildings in London, teetering on the edge of homelessness. I met and was inspired by political activists who wanted to change the world. The let down was hard when I discovered so many of these people to be armchair anarchists whose daily lives were little different to anyone else's. The utopia we were meant to be building never materialized. But at least there was a good party along the way.
I intend the film to look to the audience as the world looks to Sherry as she experiences it. As she travels from Northern to Southern Europe the dramatically changing landscape illustrates the mood. We experimented with how far we could push the limits of the HD blow up process from 16mm to 35, to create our unique look of saturated colors, sometimes blown out, sometimes shadowy. During the shoot, we often used very long master shots, which we grabbed just as the sun was about to set, rehearsing the shot again and again as we waited for the perfect light.
I used my background in dance and physical theatre to express the deeper emotions of the characters. Choreography is central to many films I admire, the fight choreography of Raging Bull, and the soldiers in Claire Denis' Beau Travail. I love the heightened and intense physical drama dance conveys, but I am often puzzled as to why the dancers are going through the angst their contorted bodies express so powerfully.
With Mouth to MouthI was able to create choreography where the audience knows exactly why the characters move as they do, because they have spent the previous thirty minutes getting to know the characters' stories. The choreography flows naturally from the characters' interactions and does not reflect conventional dance styles. I tried to work with the unique physicality of the individual actors to create something believable yet heightened. I hope the overall style to be truthful, yet poetic. The moments where Sherry physically touches and is touched by the other characters speak the most.
- Grand Chameleon Award (Alison Murray, Brooklyn International Film Festival, New York City, June 2005)
- Best Feature (Brooklyn International Film Festival, New York City, June 2005)
- Best Feature (Britspotting British Independent Film Festival, Berlin, April 2006)
- Jury Prize (Festival D' Annonay, France, February 2007)
- Music Prize (Festival D' Annonay, France, February 2007)
- High School Prize (Festival D' Annonay, France, February 2007)
- Alison Murray based the story on her own experiences of living in a cult
- Ellen Page said the scene where her character loses her virginity was her least favorite to film because the scene took so long to shoot and the cobble stones were so cold
- All the cast members really shaved their heads for the film, so the entire movie had to be shot in sequence. Ellen Page walked around with her half her hair shaved off for a full day
- "Ellen Page is going to be a superstar." - Toronto Sun
- "An affirmation of freedom. A gripping and painful story of mind control and forced conformity." - National Post
- "...one of those films that crawls under your skin and doesn't let go." - Kino Magazine
- "Exquisite." - Toronto Globe and Mail
- "...uncompromising..." - Artrocker