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“COMPLIANCE” | writer-director, Craig Zobel

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Saturday, January 21, 11:30 pm –Library Center Theatre, Park City]

My movie is closely based on a true event, though I actually stumbled upon the story years after it was a news item. (Is “Ripped from old headlines!” a saying?) To delve too much into the events might dampen some of the film’s enjoyment, but in brief, it involves some people who are essentially talked into holding a person against her will, naked, in the stockroom of a fast food restaurant for hours.

I can’t say when I first discovered this story that I had a “Eureka!” moment, where it seemed obvious it should be a film. The story’s sensational, so it’s engaging in the somewhat tawdry way sensational news stories always are, but the people involved did things that strain believability, so making a credible film from it seemed almost impossible.

Days after reading the story, I still found myself going back to it, wondering, “How could that have really happened?” I found myself playing around in idle time at my word processor, trying to put the words in these people’s mouths that could explain how they all got into their bizarre predicament. I found myself imagining what these people’s emotional lives would’ve needed to be in order to make them behave as they did, and ultimately I was surprised to find myself writing this crazy psychological thriller.

Why is film the best medium for this story? Because I was conducting an investigation: I needed to know if you could even partially sympathize with these people’s decisions. It is a story about people’s relationships with authority. If I were a behavioral psychologist, I might have tried to conduct a study or write a paper on that topic. But to me, film was the best way to ask, “Can I actually relate to these people? What in the hell would I do in that situation?”

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