Léopoldine Huyghues Despointes, an international business major at Wagner College, is both the star and the inspiration for a short narrative film being featured in the Tribeca Film Festival this week in New York City.
“Atlantic Avenue” was directed by Laure De Clermont, a well-known French actress who collaborated with Despointes to make her first movie.
“My experiences on movie sets (with Raoul Ruiz, Luc Besson, Julian Schnabel, Christine Laurent) instilled in me the desire to direct my own project,” De Clermont wrote on the fundraising website, indiegogo.com. “So when my close friend, Léopoldine Huyghues Despointes, a young and stunning disabled girl, approached me … and expressed her wish to be part of a movie as an actress, I began to imagine a story with her.”
The two friends started writing the script together in September 2011. Despointes was also one of the producers of the film. It was shot in 4 days last spring on Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue.
Their goal for the film was to “break taboos,” says Despointes, by dealing with the topics of disability and sexuality. Despointes suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder commonly known as brittle bone disease, and she uses a wheelchair. In the film, co-star Brady Corbet (“Melancholia,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”) plays Jeremiah, a male prostitute who comes to the aid of the wheelchair-bound Celeste, played by Despointes. Celeste becomes obsessed with Jeremiah and pursues a love affair with him.
Despointes came to the United States from Paris, France, originally to complete studies toward a law degree so that she could work on rights for the disabled. But working on “Atlantic Avenue,” she says, has changed her direction. Now she is starting her own production company and working on several film projects around various causes, including disability issues, rape, and anorexia.
“I want to make films with real impact on people,” she says.
“Atlantic Avenue” will also be screened at the Nantucket Film Festival and in the film market at Cannes. De Clermont is working on a script to develop it into a feature-length film.
The film opened last Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival and has its final screening this Sunday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. All screenings have sold out, but rush tickets are available. A word to the wise: Show up at least 45 minutes before showtime if you want to get rush tickets for “Atlantic Avenue.”
What they’re saying about ‘Atlantic Avenue’
- Shecky’s listed “Atlantic Avenue” among its “5 Films to See at Tribeca Film Festival”
- Patrick Hickey of ReviewFix.com interviewed director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
- Mark Peikert of Backstage wrote his own “5 Short Films to Catch at the Tribeca Film Festival”