Documentarian Elvira Lind made her first venture into the world of narrative short films with “The Letter Room,” and she just earned her first Oscar nomination for it in the Best Live Action Short Film category. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Lind’s husband and business partner, as a corrections officer named Richard who is transferred to the prison’s mailroom and finds himself subsequently invested in the inmates’ personal lives. The film is Lind and Isaac’s first project as part of their production company, Mad Gene. “It’s great to have the first thing we make out of this company be nominated for an Academy Award,” says Lind in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the full interview above.
Lind wanted to tell a different kind of prison story than we typically see in film and television, one more grounded in the day-to-day realities of prison life. She found the letter room setting to be a unique angle with which to examine the prison system in America. “Something we take for granted, our privacy, our ability to be connected with our family members, suddenly there is this person that is centering your relationship and what you can receive,” explains Lind. “In a short film, you can’t do it all, so it became more about the boredom, the longing and the sadness.”
Working with Isaac in a more professional capacity wasn’t a huge change for the writer-director. “We work a lot on each other’s things,” reveals Lind. “We’ve been a big part of each other’s productions for many years so it’s been fun to open a place where we can start creating things for real.” Isaac also helped convince Lind to watch the Oscar nominations announcement, which she admits was a nerve-wracking experience. “I was like, ‘I don’t feel like that’s something that I wanna put my body through, the stress of that,'” she recalls. Thankfully, it turned out to be good news. “It was nerve-wracking in the moment but really fun when they said, ‘The Letter Room.'”
While Lind comes from the world of documentaries, she is hoping to delve further into narrative film after her experience on “The Letter Room.” “I’ve always loved writing stories,” she reveals. “In docs, you’re very reliant on the truth and the facts of the world that you’re documenting and what characters want to do,” while crafting a fictional narrative provides more creative freedom. “I’m quite hooked on that.”
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