October Country is a beautifully rendered portrait of an American family struggling for stability while haunted by the ghosts of war, teen pregnancy, foster care and child abuse. A collaboration between filmmaker Michael Palmieri and photographer and family member Donal Mosher, this vibrant and penetrating documentary examines the forces that unsettle the working poor and the violence that lurks beneath the surface of American life.
Every family has its ghosts. The Mosher family has more than most. Shot over a year from one Halloween to the next, the film creates a stunning cinematic portrait of a family who are unique but also sadly representative of the struggles of America's working class. The film was created to be both a universal story of family struggle and a socially conscious portrait of compelling, articulate individuals grappling with the forces that tear at their homes and relationships.
Combining the access only available to a family member with an intimate visual style of a filmmaker encountering the family's dynamics for the first time, the film gives a deeply personal voice to the national issues of economic instability, domestic abuse, war trauma, and sexual molestation. As the Moshers do their best to confront their ghosts, we confront the broader issues that haunt us all in the continued struggle for the American Dream.
The matriarch of the Moshers. Her dedication keeps the family from falling apart. She is the mother of Donna, grandmother to Daneal and Desi, and Foster-mother to Chris.
The patriarch of the Moshers. A former policeman and a Vietnam veteran, he now wrestles with PTSD that alienates him from his family, especially his sister Denise.
Don’s estranged sister. Lonely and over medicated, she practices Wicca and believes she is in contact with the local spirits of the dead.
Don and Dottie’s daughter. Her past relationships with abusive men sent destructive ripples through the entire family. She is the mother to Daneal and Desi.
Donna’s oldest daughter. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she is a young mother caught in a custody battle with the abusive father of her daughter Ruby.
Donna’s youngest child. At age 11 she is discontented, sharp-witted, and remarkably aware of her circumstances and cycles of behavior around her. She may be the one character that escapes.
Daneal’s 2-year-old daughter.
Don and Dottie’s foster son. Struggling with a long history of broken homes, foster care, and criminal behavior, his position in the family is a volatile one for Don and Dottie.
Jan Bijvoet - Theo
Jan Bijvoet was born in Antwerp in 1966. He has been one of the artistic directors and actors of the Antarctica Theater since 2005. He has also performed in film and television, guest-starring in a number of series. He has starred in the films AD FUNDUM, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Academy® Award nominee), and BORGMAN (Official Selection – Competition, Cannes 2013). In 2007, he was nominated for the Flemish Culture Award of Scenic Arts. Referring to the German explorer who was the inspiration for his character, he reflects that even though Grünberg tried to integrate with the native people, he could not let go of his white spirit. “He had the western way of thinking, and he wanted to carry hundreds of things to study. Love is possession, too. He is also afraid of death. He doesn’t understand why, but it’s because deep down, he is a materialist since his formation, even though he tries to drift away from it.”
Brionne Davis - Evan
Brionne Davis was born in Texas and started acting at a very early age, playing Tom Sawyer. He has starred and taken leading roles in more than 30 independent feature length and short films and television series, including REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK (2008), DOROTHY AND THE WITCHES OF OZ (2012), Pandemic (2007), NARCISSIST (2014), SAVAGED (2013), and HOLIDAYS WITH HEATHER (2006). In New York, Brionne starred in the Theatre Row adaptation of Sam Shepard’s “True West.” He has appeared in many theater productions all across the country, including “Wallenburg” at the Soho Playhouse, “A Noble Exile” in Los Angeles and “Nueva York,” a one-man show that he wrote ￼ and produced, inspired by the writings of Tennessee Williams. Davis’ character “Evan” in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was inspired by the great botanist and explorer Richard Evans Schultes, and he feels close to him in his love of and search for plants and nature.
Antonio Bolívar Savador - Old Karamakate
Antonio Bolívar Salvador is one of the last survivors of the Ocaina people. He resides near Leticia and has had some previous experiences in filmmaking, but he prefers not to speak about them because he feels that they were disrespectful to his culture. Besides playing one of the main characters, he also served as interpreter for the Tikuna, Cubeo, Huitoto languages and even English, as he became the teacher of the international actors. He represents the best of the Amazonian people: willing to trust foreigners, to transmit their knowledge and thankful to be treated respectfully. That’s the most important aspect of the film to him: “It is a film that shows the Amazon, the lungs of the world, the greater purifying filter and the most valuable of indigenous cultures. That is its greatest achievement.”
Nilbio Torres - Young Karamakate
Nilbio Torres has never set foot in a gym; his amazing physique has been sculpted by the hardships of the jungle and the hard work he’s done since he was little. The 30- year-old has only worked in agriculture and this is his first experience with the cinema. He has a hard time expressing himself in Spanish, as he speaks mostly Cubeo. But he manages to find words to tell what this experience has meant to him. He feels the film is faithful to the story of his ancestors. “What Ciro is doing with this film is an homage to the memory of our elders, in the time before: the way the white men treated the natives, the rubber exploitation. I’ve asked the elders how it was and it is as seen in the film, that’s why we decided to support it. For the elders and myself it is a memory of the ancestors and their knowledge.”
Yauenkü Miguee - Manduca
Yauenkü Miguee was born and raised in Nazareth, a Tikuna community of the Amazon, 26 years ago. He is now a student of physical education in Bogotá and is about to achieve his greatest goal: to become a professional. He defines his participation in the film as a new experience in his life, this time from the field of art and corporal expression, which reinforced his thinking and showed him how to see life from different perspectives. He believes this film should be shared not only with the people of the locations, but all across the country, with all the indigenous peoples in Leticia and the Amazon, with the leaders, in schools and universities. He is the voice of many Manducas, a voice that, far away from the so-called civilization, cries out for a more civilized attitude towards Colombia’s indigenous communities.
Michael Palmieri - Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor
Michael began directing film and television in 2001. He has directed over twenty music videos for such artists as Beck, The Strokes, Belle and Sebastian, The New Pornographers, The Foo Fighters, and The Bravery. His commercial work includes spots for Converse, Coke, MAC Cosmetics, and ESPN. Other notable collaborators include the political cartoonist and journalist Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury, fine artists Tauba Auerbach and Adrian Paci, cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and the Academy award winning documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. An adjunct professor of film and video at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, he now resides in Portland, Oregon.
Donal Mosher - Director, Writer
Donal Mosher is a photographer, writer, and musician. His photo documentary work inspired the film “October Country”. Portions of the project have been shown in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco's SF Camerawork as well as online at the Marjorie Wood Gallery. His fiction and non-fiction writings have appeared in SF Camerawork, Instant City, Satellite, Frozen Tears, and Life As We Show It - Writing On Film. Donal is also a principle subject of Robert Arnold's documentary film "Key of G," which focuses on life and work with a severely disabled young man.