After premiering at Sundance earlier this year, Bleecker Street’s family drama, What They Had made its way to the Toronto Film Festival for its international premiere screening. Written and directed by Elizabeth Chomko, the film stars Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner, Robert Forster, Taissa Farmiga, and Josh Lucas.
It follows Bridget (Swank) as she returns home to Chicago at the urging of her estranged brother (Shannon) to deal with her ailing mother (Danner) and her father’s (Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together. The siblings are forced back together to make some difficult decisions about their parents’ future.
Chomko stopped by Deadline’s TIFF studio and talked about how she set out to “create something where all these three generations are coming of an age.”
She continued, “I think there’s always this place where you’re having to — and it’s all about letting go — having to parent your parents, co-parenting with your sibling, and obviously coming-of-age in a more conventional sense.”
She added, “then having to come of an age where you are letting go of your whole life and your whole love affair. It’s all a process of life just letting go.”
Joining Chomko in the studio were Shannon, Forster, Farmiga, and Swank, who spoke about why she felt vulnerable in her role.
“I was playing a woman who was struggling with decisions that she made and decisions she didn’t make for herself and trusting her instinct and knowing her self-worth,” shared Swank. “All these things that I think encapsulate a person and especially a woman.”
What They Had opens in limited theaters October 12.
Check out the rest of the interview to see what Chomko had to say about female representation behind the camera.