Half Nelson (2006)

R | 104 or 106-107 mins | Drama | 25 August 2006

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

The opening titles feature the distribution and production company names and the film’s title; all other credits run after the film. In the end credits, the names of Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie first appear before the film's title is repeated, followed by the names of several other actors. In the cast of characters, which appears later in the end credits, the names are listed in order of appearance. End titles note that the film was “produced with the support of Verisimilitude, Sundance Institute, developed with the assistance of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.”
       Numerous individuals and companies, including Apt. 5 Cosmetics, the Meow Mix Company and The New York Times , are mentioned as having provided props, artworks and other items to the production. Within the film, classroom scenes in which students present oral reports about the civil rights era include actual newsreel footage of people and historical events, including the 1971 riots at New York's Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY, Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio, politician and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, and the 1973 American-sponsored coup in Chile.
       The title, Half Nelson , was taken from a wrestling move, which, as the presskit describes, is “an immobilizing hold that is difficult, if not impossible, to escape.” Half Nelson was based on Gowanus, Brooklyn , a short film made by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden after they graduated from New York University Film School. According to a 30 Jan 2006 HR article, the screenplay for the short was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters and Filmmakers Lab. Gowanus, Brooklyn was ... More Less

The opening titles feature the distribution and production company names and the film’s title; all other credits run after the film. In the end credits, the names of Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie first appear before the film's title is repeated, followed by the names of several other actors. In the cast of characters, which appears later in the end credits, the names are listed in order of appearance. End titles note that the film was “produced with the support of Verisimilitude, Sundance Institute, developed with the assistance of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.”
       Numerous individuals and companies, including Apt. 5 Cosmetics, the Meow Mix Company and The New York Times , are mentioned as having provided props, artworks and other items to the production. Within the film, classroom scenes in which students present oral reports about the civil rights era include actual newsreel footage of people and historical events, including the 1971 riots at New York's Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY, Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio, politician and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, and the 1973 American-sponsored coup in Chile.
       The title, Half Nelson , was taken from a wrestling move, which, as the presskit describes, is “an immobilizing hold that is difficult, if not impossible, to escape.” Half Nelson was based on Gowanus, Brooklyn , a short film made by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden after they graduated from New York University Film School. According to a 30 Jan 2006 HR article, the screenplay for the short was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters and Filmmakers Lab. Gowanus, Brooklyn was then produced, according to the presskit, over a weekend, at a cost of $800 in order to interest potential backers to invest in a feature-length version. The short film later won the Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Shareeka Epps made her film debut in Gowanus, Brooklyn , and was recast in the same role for the feature.
       The feature film, Half Nelson , was shot on location in Gowanus and other locales in Brooklyn, New York in late Jun and early Jul 2005. The presskit notes that some scenes in Half Nelson were inspired by the music of Broken Social Scene, the popular Canadian collective of artists from other bands. The band, which also provides the score for the film, was founded in 2002 and included seventeen members at the time of production. A 30 Jul 2006 article in NYT reported that Gosling, who was the filmmakers' only choice for the role of "Dan Dunne," prepared for it by observing public schoolteacher David Easton in his classroom. Easton’s physical resemblance to Gosling inspired the filmmakers to cast him as Dunne’s brother in the film. According to the 30 Jan 2006 HR article, after representatives of ThinkFilm saw Half Nelson at Sundance, they purchased the distribution rights for under $1 million. According to the article, a first and lower offer was made by Miramax, but the filmmakers turned it down. In addition to being shown at the Sundance and New York New Directions/New Films festivals, Half Nelson was also screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival prior to its New York and Los Angeles premieres.
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's Movies of the Year, Half Nelson received the following awards and nominations: Gosling received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor; the film received the Special Prize of the Jury and Youth Jury Award at the 2006 Locarno Film Festival; it was co-winner of the Audience Awards for Best Actor (Gosling) and Best Actress (Epps) at the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival; and received the Revelations Prize and Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Deauville Festival of American Cinema. The New York Independent Film Project Gotham Awards named Half Nelson as Best Feature, and gave director Fleck the Breakthrough Director Award, and Epps the Breakthrough Actor Award. For Film Independent’s 2007 Spirit Awards, Gosling received the Best Male and Epps the Best Female Lead awards and was nominated in the categories of Best Feature, Best Director and Best First Screenplay. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Jul 2005.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jan 2006.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 2006
p. 10.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 2006
p. 5, 21.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 2006.
p. 2, 36.
Esquire
Aug 2006
pp. 29-30.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 2006.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 2006
p. 3, 27.
LA Weekly
25 Aug 2006
p. 96, 98.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 2006
Section E, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 2006.
---
New York
14 Aug 2006.
---
New York Times
30 Jul 2006
Section 2, p. 17.
New York Times
11 Aug 2006.
---
Screen International
13 Jan 2006.
---
Variety
27 Mar 2006.
---
Variety
11 Sep 2006.
---
Village Voice
1 Feb 2006.
---
Village Voice
22 Mar 2006.
---
Village Voice
9-15 Aug 2006
p. 68.
Wall Street Journal
11 Aug 2006.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Film by Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
1st asst cam
Addl 1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam asst
Cam loader
Still photog
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Addl grip/Elec
Addl grip/Elec
Grip/Elec intern
Videographer
Videographer
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Editing facilities
IQ editorial
Negative matching
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
On-set dresser
Prop master
Specialty prop maker
Art intern
Art intern
Art intern
Art intern
Art intern
Art intern
Art intern
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des asst
Ward supv
Ward intern
Ward intern
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed/Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Eff ed
Dial ed
Foley artist
Foley recordist
Foley ed
Audio post facility
Dolby sd consultant
MAKEUP
Key makeup
Addl makeup
Addl makeup
Key hairstylist
Addl hair
Addl hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Prod supv
Scr supv
Asst prod coord
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod accountant
Payroll accountant
Key set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Addl set prod asst
Office prod asst
Set intern
Set intern
Set intern
Set intern
Set intern
Set intern
Loc intern
Clearance supv
Office intern
Office intern
Office intern
Office intern
Office intern
Asst to Hunting Lane Films
Asst to Hunting Lane Films
Asst to Silverwood Films
Asst to Original Media
Asst to Original Media
Catering
Catering asst
Parking coord
Parking prod asst
Parking prod asst
Parking prod asst
Parking prod asst
Parking prod asst
Parking prod asst
Parking prod asst
Legal counsel
[Attorney]
Payroll services
Scanning and film rec
Scanning and film rec
Dailies lab
Laser film rec
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate facility
Digital intermediate prod
Digital intermediate colorist
Digital intermediate eng
Digital intermediate eng
Dailies colorist
Color timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Stars & Sons,” “Capture the Flag” and “Shampoo Suicide,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album You Forgot It in People
“Evacuation,” written by Joseph White and Stephen Versecky, performed by The Somnambulants, under license from Clairaudience Collective Publishing
“Haciendo Algo,” written by Soandres del Río Ferrer and Alexy Cantero Perez, performed by Hermanos de Causa, courtesy of Hermanos de Causa
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SONGS
“Stars & Sons,” “Capture the Flag” and “Shampoo Suicide,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album You Forgot It in People
“Evacuation,” written by Joseph White and Stephen Versecky, performed by The Somnambulants, under license from Clairaudience Collective Publishing
“Haciendo Algo,” written by Soandres del Río Ferrer and Alexy Cantero Perez, performed by Hermanos de Causa, courtesy of Hermanos de Causa
“Set Me Free,” written by Homer Greencastle, published by Source in Sync Music, courtesy of 5 Alarm Music
“The Corner,” written by Brian Carenard and Mark Ronson, performed by Saigon, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Inouye Music, Nogias/Sony ATV Music Publishing
“The Merc and the Mot,” written and performed by The Lodge, licensed courtesy of The Lodge
“Blues for Uncle Gibb,” “Mossbreaker,” “ Passport Radio,” “Guilty Cubicles,” “Feel Good Lost,” “Last Place” and “Da Da Dada,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album Feel Good Lost
“Na Ni Na” and “Vivito y Coleando,” composed by Luís Céspedes, arranged by Guillermo Céspedes, published by Red Linnet Music, administered by Bug Music
“Is and of the,” written and performed by KC Accidental, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Noise Factory Records, from the album Anthems for the Could’ve Bin Pills
“Save the Last Breath,” written and performed by KC Accidental, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Noise Factory Records, from the album Captured Anthems for an Empty Bathtub
“A New England,” performed by Billy Bragg, courtesy of Elektra Entertainment Group, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
“Lover’s Spit” and “Lover’s Spit (Instrumental Mix),” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album Bee Hives
“Black Hearts,” written and performed by Remy Balon, courtesy of TC 1 Productions
“Chad’s Favorite Song,” written by William Staler/Defiance, Ohio, performed by Remy Balon, courtesy of TC 1 Productions
“BK Bounce,” written by Mark Ronson, Josie Sejour and Samuel M. Henderson, performed by Samsun & Sejour, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Inouye Music, Uncle Butch, Gisele J. Music
“Someone’s Theme,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records
“Wanted,” written by Mark Ronson, C. Smith, S. Ronson, performed by Rhymefest, featuring Samantha Ronson, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Inouye Music, Solomon Inc., 77 Music
“Sometimes,” written by Alex Gale, Thomas Gross, Dave Guy, Loren Hammonds, Aaron Jones, Dave Kupferstein, Taylor Rivelli, performed and produced by DuJeous, courtesy of Wax Po Records, under license from Apex Technical Drool, Music for the Elderly, Diesel Big Mouth Music, The Cinematic Advances, Sleazy-Rhet Music, Insane Wizard Scripts, Chiron in the Stars
“Soho Dancer,” written and performed by Stanton Davis, published by Delta Six Music, Inc.
“Udonomehomey,” written by Samuel Gilbert and Darius Leon, performed by Samuel Gilbert, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Strange Music
“It’s Alright to Cry,” written by Carol Hall, performed by Rosey Grier, published by MS Foundation for Women, Inc., c/o Free to Be Foundation Inc., licensed courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“Can’t You See,” written by Tom Caldwell, performed by The Marshall Tucker Band, courtesy of Marshall Tucker Entertainment d/b/a, Ramblin’ Records, under exclusive license to Shout Factory LLC, under license from Spirit One Music/Spirit Music Group
“Just Begun,” written by Max Lawrence, performed by King Honey, featuring Baby Blak, published by Earquill Music, licensed courtesy of Sound-Ink Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 August 2006
Premiere Information:
Sundance Film Festival screening: 22 January 2006
New Directors/New Films screening: 22 March 2006
New York opening: 11 August 2006
Production Date:
late June--early July 2005 in Brooklyn, New York
Copyright Claimant:
Half Nelson LLC
Copyright Date:
2006
Copyright Number:
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital
Color
Deluxe Laboratories
Lenses/Prints
Kodak
Duration(in mins):
104 or 106-107
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

White Brooklyn schoolteacher Dan Dunne regularly shows up to class hung over from his nighttime crack cocaine habit, but nevertheless is an impassioned educator. Dan tries to inspire his mostly African-American students by teaching history through the prism of dialectics, arguing that opposing forces create change. Dan also coaches the girls’ basketball team. Distressed after seeing his former girl friend, Rachel, at a game one night, he smokes crack in the supposedly empty girls’ locker room, but is discovered by one of his students, thirteen-year-old Drey. Drey is naturally reserved and betrays only a silent disappointment at seeing her teacher high and crouching in a toilet stall. Nevertheless, she stays with Dan, who is anxious, and later allows him to drive her home. Drey’s home is an empty apartment: her father is estranged, her mother works double shifts, and her older brother, Mike, is in prison. Drey is noticeably absent from class the next day, but returns on another day on which Dan explains the concept of turning points achieved during moments of opposition. To demonstrate, Dan arm-wrestles—and beats—a student. Despite Dan’s obvious enthusiasm, the principal reprimands him for refusing to stick to the mandated curriculum. Later, Dan learns that his crack pipe was found in the bathroom, but its owner cannot be identified. After school, meanwhile, Drey forms a wary but close bond with Mike’s friend and former employer, Frank, a drug dealer who helps support her family. Drey is unaware that Dan buys his drugs from Frank’s confederate, Harvey. Dan continues to guide his class through the period of the civil rights movement and ... +


White Brooklyn schoolteacher Dan Dunne regularly shows up to class hung over from his nighttime crack cocaine habit, but nevertheless is an impassioned educator. Dan tries to inspire his mostly African-American students by teaching history through the prism of dialectics, arguing that opposing forces create change. Dan also coaches the girls’ basketball team. Distressed after seeing his former girl friend, Rachel, at a game one night, he smokes crack in the supposedly empty girls’ locker room, but is discovered by one of his students, thirteen-year-old Drey. Drey is naturally reserved and betrays only a silent disappointment at seeing her teacher high and crouching in a toilet stall. Nevertheless, she stays with Dan, who is anxious, and later allows him to drive her home. Drey’s home is an empty apartment: her father is estranged, her mother works double shifts, and her older brother, Mike, is in prison. Drey is noticeably absent from class the next day, but returns on another day on which Dan explains the concept of turning points achieved during moments of opposition. To demonstrate, Dan arm-wrestles—and beats—a student. Despite Dan’s obvious enthusiasm, the principal reprimands him for refusing to stick to the mandated curriculum. Later, Dan learns that his crack pipe was found in the bathroom, but its owner cannot be identified. After school, meanwhile, Drey forms a wary but close bond with Mike’s friend and former employer, Frank, a drug dealer who helps support her family. Drey is unaware that Dan buys his drugs from Frank’s confederate, Harvey. Dan continues to guide his class through the period of the civil rights movement and intermittently attempts to stop taking drugs. During one such upswing he meets with Rachel, who is now a recovering addict and has a new life. Upset after learning that Rachel is engaged, Dan overreacts to a foul at a school basketball game and insults the referee, who kicks him off the court. When Drey checks on him afterward, he asks her if she knows Frank, who attended the game with his girl friend, Tina, and was obviously cheering for Drey. However, Drey pretends not to know Frank and Dan does the same. Hung over the next day, Dan lectures aimlessly to the now-bored students and eats lunch alone. He gives Drey a ride home again, but she claims to have lost her key so he will take her back to his apartment. Now becoming genuine friends, Drey and Dan relax into an easy banter, and when she learns he has a date that night, she shares her favorite silly knock-knock joke for him to use. In the evening, Dan’s date with his fellow teacher, Isabel, seems to go well and she spends the night, but he is cold toward her the next morning. Following a student dance in the gym one night, Dan intervenes when he discovers that Frank is taking Drey home. Dan goes too far in their tug of war over Drey and grabs her arm, so she leaves with Frank. Deflated by his own failings, the next day Dan lectures to his class about human imperfection, but is interrupted by a nosebleed. In despair, Dan abandons the class and takes refuge on a couch in the faculty lounge. That afternoon, Drey achieves her own conflicted success when she intimidates a boy into returning her stolen bicycle, while a quietly threatening Frank watches. Frank is elated by her achievement, but during a class field trip later, Drey privately conveys to Dan her fear that she may end up like her brother. This prompts Dan to confront Frank, who insists that Drey is like family to him. Frank then observes that Dan appears to believe that “what is white is right,” and the possible truth of this accusation throws Dan off-guard. Defeated again, Dan accepts Frank’s offer of a drink, and around 2:30 in the morning, turns up high on drugs at Isabel’s apartment. Dan is out of control and forces himself on Isabel, who punches him and hides in another room until he leaves. The next day, his lower lip covered with an American flag bandage, Dan is sullen and rebuffs Drey’s attempt to check on him at lunch. Some time later, Dan has dinner with his family and, rather than finding comfort there, realizes that both of his former activist parents are now alcoholic has-beens, and his father is a borderline bigot. Drey, meanwhile, is out with Frank, who has finally lured her into delivering drugs. When the subject of Dan comes up, she declares that Dan is her teacher and friend, but Frank observes that addicts have no friends. Frank knowingly sends Drey on a delivery late that night to a motel room, where she is stunned to find herself selling drugs to Dan, who is having a drug-fueled orgy with prostitutes. They make the exchange wordlessly, after which Frank drives Drey home. Drey’s mother finds her asleep on the couch, and although Drey has a heavy heart, she will not tell her mother what troubles her. The next day, a substitute teacher appears in class in place of Dan. Although Frank is waiting for Drey after school, she turns down his offer of a ride and instead goes to the motel, where she finds Dan alone and sees him home. At his apartment, Dan cleans up and shaves off his beard. Later, he attempts to tell a silly knock-knock joke that his brother told at dinner, but botches it and he and Drey share a laugh. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.