Photograph courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
Venice 71: Film Festival – Heaven Know What – Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie. Heaven Know What directed by the Safdie brothers Gosh and Benny stars, Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Buddy Duress and Eleonore Hendricks. “We met Arielle as a temp assistant in the diamond district while we were doing research for another film. She was the most uniquely beautiful girl we had ever seen, with such a harsh jersey accent and an original vibe. We had to know more about her. We met a week later and we slowly realized she was a homeless girl (19 at the time) with a heroin addiction and a mysteriously evil boyfriend named Ilya. We met with her weekly, learned more and more about her exciting and self-induced dramatic life. Then, she disappeared for a few weeks after we got her a job in a music video, which she didn’t show up for. It was very concerning and confusing. Turned out she was in a psych ward at Bellevue Hospital for an attempted suicide. Soon after, we commissioned her to write about her life, which she did in various Apple Computer stores throughout NYC. The result was a 150+ page document filled with some of the most original writing we had ever read. A detailed account of what it’s like to live on the streets of modern NYC with a drug habit, a wild boyfriend and yearning for romantic drama. Never a dull moment, because a dull moment meant death! We adapted those pages into a screenplay and hit the streets casting all the great street kids we could find and added actor Caleb Landry Jones (who immersed himself into the scene in an almost dangerous way) to play her boyfriend. We chose Caleb for his reputation of obsessive immersion into the characters he plays. We knew we were going to have Caleb surrounded by real street kids at times and there was no safety net, often our cameras were hidden far away, we needed his dedication, his appropriation of the street. The goal was to sculpt the production into something that could be shot sequentially on the streets of NYC blending real actors with bindlestiffs, and street legends.” The directors stated.
Above. Directors Benny Safdie (bowtie) and Gosh Safdie (beard) with the cast.
Heaven Know What. Gosh Safdie and Arielle Holmes
Heaven Know What. Caleb Landry Jones and Arielle Homes.