Family Obligations

  • Drama

*2019 Austin Film Festival Official Selection. 3x Best Feature Film award winner.*
After his father’s sudden death, loner Peter Steele finds himself the reluctant caretaker of his sick Uncle Frank. Through new friendship with Frank’s neighbor Melanie, Peter begins to see that involvement in other people’s lives might just be worth it after all.

Runtime 82

Released 2019

Director Kenneth R. Frank

Producer Shawna Brandle, Brett Brandle, Kenneth R. Frank, Chris Mollica

Writer Kenneth R. Frank

Cast Chris Mollica, Chandler Rosenthal, Frank Failla, Eleanor Brandle-Frank, Angelica Adams, Jerry Colpitts, C. Boyd Motley

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Filmmaker Statement

I began writing Family Obligations in the hopes of telling a particular story: the story of a person who chooses to act against every impulse he has previously had about relationships and family and decides to engage meaningfully with others for the first time in his life. I saw two very different modes of behavior: the decision to cut oneself off from all family and connection to a larger group identity and the decision to care for another person’s needs over and above a commitment to one’s own. I realized that a person making the transition between these two extremes would reveal a lot about the individual’s character and all our own ideas about identity, family, and our responsibilities to one another. Family Obligations tells the story of three people who are very much alone in their journeys and what happens to each when their paths cross. Peter moves along obliviously in his life, detached from any significant relationship until his father’s sudden death brings him back to his hometown to deal with the loose ends left behind. Frank is Peter’s bachelor uncle, seemingly forgotten by all, coming to grips with his own illness and mortality. Melanie, Frank’s neighbor, is a single mother doing it all by herself and realizing that her choices and her possibilities grow diminished as time passes. The film follows these characters handling the risks, and the rewards, of taking others into your life and finding value and dignity in another. As a production company, Family Obligations represented an opportunity to make a feature film in our own backyard. We were fortunate enough to partner with several businesses, vendors, and local municipalities to shoot entirely in Nassau County, NY, where the principal members of In the Garage Productions were born and raised. A project of this scale limited to the budget we could muster meant relying on the kindness and generosity of the local community, and in this respect, we count ourselves incredibly lucky to be around such wonderful people. This was a project of passion, and each person and institution with whom we partnered treated it as though it were their top priority. Equally important to working locally was assembling cast and crew from the talent available to us in our area. As members of the local creative community, we knew that a wide, diverse pool of talent was going largely untapped around us. We trusted that the performers and craftspeople around us would bring life to this story and take ownership of this film as a truly handmade, local product. My hope in sharing Family Obligations with an audience is fostering a sense of human connection: of reminding people why, as frustrating as other people may be at times, relationships are the only way for us to serve our fellow man and overcome our own sense of isolation.

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