By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth-native filmmaker Liza Johnson will participate in a special screening of her newest movie “Return” on March 1 at The Ohio State University.
The film — starring Linda Cardellini, John Slattery, and Michael Shannon — is about a woman, played by Cardellini, returning home from war in the Middle East to discover her friends and husband (Shannon) have moved on without her. It opened to limited release Feb. 10 by Dada Studios.
Hollywood Reporter reviewer Todd McCarthy said of the film, “‘Return’ has quiet virtues and the distinction of focusing closely on one particular woman’s difficulty readjusting to being a wife and mother.” Variety also called the film “amiable, stylish, low-key.”
Cardellini most notably appeared on TV’s “ER” and on film in “Scooby Doo.” Slattery has been seen on TV’s “Mad Men” and “Desperate Housewives,” and on film in “Iron Man 2” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Shannon is best known for his work on TV’s “Boardwalk Empire,” and next year will star as the villain General Zod in the major motion picture relaunch of the Superman franchise titled “Man of Steel.”
Originally from Portsmouth, Johnson received her B.A. from Williams College and her M.F.A. from the University of California at San Diego. She has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as New York, Berlin, and Rotterdam Film Festivals. She has been a fellow of the DAAD Berliner Kunstlerprogramm and the Sundance Institute, and has published many articles on art and film. Johnson has also curated museum exhibitions at the Anthology Film Archives and at the Asia Society Museum in New York.
In 2009, Johnson released a film documentary about Cirque d’Art in Portsmouth. The film received the Vienna Short film award in 2010 and was nominated for Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival. Pegi Wilkes of the Southern Ohio Museum took 16 Cirque d’Art students to the film’s opening at the OSU Wexner Center, and four students traveled to New York City to participate in a screening and discussion.
“‘In the Air’ has had a lasting effect on many of the circus students. They feel like they have become part of something outside of their community, something very special and significant. They know they have been accepted and acclaimed on a stage much larger than just here at home — the world stage,” Wilkes said.
In 2010, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Massachusetts awarded her the 2010 Rappaport Prize.
“Liza is a rare artist that manages to combine incredible artistic skill with a profound concern and awareness of social inequalities to produce touching yet powerful works of art,” said Dina Deitsch, associate curator of contemporary art at deCordova.
On March 1, Johnson will participate in a screening and discussion at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Her appearance is part of the Director’s Dialogue on Art and Social Change. Moderated by WOSU’s Ann Fisher, the panel also includes Judith Broder, founder and director of The Soldiers Project and a 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal recipient; Erica Slone, an Ohio State University student veteran and curator of an exhibition of art by women veterans for the National Veterans Art Museum; and Ken Harbaugh, a former U.S. Navy pilot, executive director of ServiceNation, and co-founder of The Mission Continues.
“With the recent increase in veterans returning from service overseas and the changing roles of women in the military, this film and discussion are timely subjects for our next Director’s Dialogue,” said Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin.
Tickets are available at the Wexner Center online to members and senior citizens for $5, and $7 for general public. Students, veterans, and military personnel and their families will be admitted free.
The film has not yet been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Its trailer is available online, at YouTube.com.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.