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Zoe Lister-Jones’ and Daryl Wein’s film ‘Consumed’ tackles controversial world of GM Foods

Brooklyn-Born Actress Stars in Dramatic Thriller; Screening Slated for Nov. 12 in Cobble Hill

October 30, 2015 By Samantha Samel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Zoe Lister Jones stars in “Consumed,” which she co-wrote and co-produced with Daryl Wein, the film’s director. Film still courtesy of Zoe Lister-Jones
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Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein have been making films together for several years, earning a devoted following for their quirky brand of romantic comedy. Known for their 2010 debut feature “Breaking Upwards,” which mirrored their real-life relationship, and “Lola Versus,” a 2012 film starring Greta Gerwig, the filmmakers have diverged from familiar territory with their latest movie.  “Consumed” is a thriller starring Lister-Jones, Victor Garber and Danny Glover, among others, that explores the controversial issue of genetically modified (GM) foods.  While one might expect to see GM foods as the subject of a documentary, Lister-Jones, a Brooklyn native, and Wein, who hails from Connecticut, have chosen to probe the issue in a dramatic, fictionalized narrative that has the potential to reach a broader audience.

The movie will be screened in Brooklyn on Nov. 12 at UA Court Street 12 & RPX (106 Court St. at 7:30 p.m.), and tickets must be purchased in advance.

In a recent interview with the Brooklyn Eagle, Lister-Jones spoke about her and Wein’s choice to tackle the topic of GM foods.

Call to Action video from Daryl Wein on Vimeo.

“It was such an interesting topic to us and one that so few people were talking about but seemed to be impacting so many Americans, from farmers to the average consumer. All the things we were learning — the various facets of the world of GMOs [GM organisms] — felt super cinematic to us, so we felt excited by the idea of creating a narrative,” she said. She cited films such as “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich” that, like GM foods, were “ripe for a more documentarian approach,” but that were powerful and popular as fictionalized movies. “We wanted this film to be entertaining first and foremost,” Lister-Jones added. “GMOs are incredibly divisive in terms of the debate surrounding them, and every audience member watching the film is coming into contact with GMOs every single day…we want the audience to leave feeling entertained, while also sparking a conversation.”

“Consumed” analyzes the contentious debate surrounding GM foods while employing classic elements of cinematic suspense. The story follows Sophie, a single mother played by Lister-Jones, as she struggles to uncover the source of her son Garrett’s mysterious symptoms. When doctors and specialists are unable to diagnose the young boy’s worsening condition, Sophie begins her own research and soon wonders whether her son (played by Nick Wilkin) could be reacting to GM foods.

As her panic intensifies, Sophie is further haunted by her history of mental illness and delusions. Lister-Jones explained that she and Wein intentionally constructed Sophie’s character to portray the aspect of paranoia that can surround GM foods. “I think this topic is really relevant for parents who are really confused. I think there are a lot of consumers who are confused about GMOs and what’s safe/what’s not safe [and who question] what we should be feeding our children,” Lister-Jones speculated.  “I [thought] the paranoia that might come along with that confusion might be interesting to convey in context of actual paranoia — the idea of what is real and what is not.”

Lister-Jones and Wein hope that by creating a compelling narrative, they will engage an audience that might be otherwise unfamiliar with the complexity of the subject matter. Lister-Jones suggests that the topic of GM foods is not necessarily well-understood by the general population for several reasons. “I think food is a very emotional subject…it’s very personal. So I think when people have to start questioning their food, it comes with a lot of baggage,” she told the Eagle. “It’s really a tough pill to swallow, no pun intended.”

She added, “Because the science is divided on the subject, it’s something that I think is up for a big debate in terms of the media’s portrayal of potential risks — because in this country, as opposed to 64 countries around the world, we don’t have labels on GM food…we are essentially being kept in the dark.”

Lister-Jones and Wein read numerous books and articles on GM foods to get “informed from a more investigative place” rather than thinking like filmmakers at the outset. “We kind of put a different hat on,” she explained.  It was important for them to tell a cohesive and balanced story. They filmed in rural Illinois, which Lister-Jones says gave them more insight from a farming perspective, and they spoke with leaders in the organic farm movement.

Victor Garber’s character, a workaholic CEO of a biotech corporation called Clonestra, is tactfully humanized. “That was intentional; we’re not looking to villainize anyone,” said Lister-Jones. “It’s an incredibly complex situation and there are many motivating factors on both sides; it was more to get people talking about this so they could make their own judgments.”

In addition to Lister-Jones and Garber (“Titanic,” “Argo”), the cast features Glover (“Lethal Weapon”) as a local organic farmer who believes he is being harassed by “GM cops”; Beth Grant (“No Country for Old Men”) as Sophie’s mother; and Taylor Kinney (“Chicago Fire”) as Eddie, an ex-cop. The cast also includes Kunal Nayyar (“The Big Bang Theory”), Anthony Edwards (“Top Gun”) and Griffin Dunne (“Dallas Buyers Club”).

“Consumed” is partnering with a new alternative theatrical distribution company called Gathr, which creates event screenings in cities across the country based on customer demand.

For all other cities screening the film,
click here:

For Brooklyn, tickets here:

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