Hounddog (2008)

Plot: In rural Alabama in the late 1950s, spirited young girl Lewellen (Dakota Fanning) struggles to rise above the repression that surrounds her. Lewellen is being raised by her abusive father Lou (David Morse) and a disciplinarian grandmother (Piper Laurie). However, she finds comfort and strength through the music of Elvis Presley.
Lou brings home his girlfriend Ellen (Robin Wright) who has a mysterious history with him and comes and goes when his drunk and abuse becomes too much for her.
One day, Lewellen is raped by a teenage boy and her spirit comes close to the breaking point.

Director & Writer: Deborah Kampmeier

Executive Producer: Robin Wright

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Robin Wright, David Morse, Piper Laurie, Cody Hanford, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jody Thompson, Afemo Omilami & Jill Scott

Music by: Gisburg Smialek

Genre: Drama

Filming Dates: 5 June 2006 – 21 July 2006

Filming locations: Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Release Date: September 19, 2008

Budget: $3,750,000

Runtime: 98 minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for a disturbing sexual assault of a young girl, and brief sexuality

Some Trivia

-David Morse, Robin Wright and Piper Laurie had all previously appeared in “The Crossing Guard” (1995).

-Hounddog is Isabelle Fuhrman’s film debut.

Director Deborah Kampmeier and Robin Wright

-This is the second film where Kampmeier directs Robin Wright. The first one is ‘Virgin’ (2004). In both films Robin Wright plays an important supporting role and is also an Executive Producer.

Interviewer: I heard that Robin Wright Penn was crucial in getting this film distributed.
Deborah Kampmeier: Well, you know I got her the script… It was one of those things where her agent said, “No she won’t do this film”. And I’m like, “Can you just get her the script” “No.” “Can you get her a letter?” “No”. And I had a friend with the same agent, who convinced the agent to get a letter to Robin, and I wrote so from my heart and she agreed to read the script after she read my letter. And she read the script and she called me and she said she wanted to do the film. And I took a train to Philadelphia—or I might have driven—for a 15 minute coffee to meet with her, and it turned into a 5-hour lunch, dinner, and walk through the park. We connected so deeply through this story. And—this is Hounddog ten years ago.

For years I’d been trying to get this film made. And she attached herself immediately. And right after she was attached—I had already scouted locations—the financing fell through. Because they wanted me to take the rape scene out and I wouldn’t. I walked away from $5 million over this.

Another four years go by…I finally get Dakota attached to the film, still could not get the funding, so for nine months—I started production with a hundred thousand dollars because I knew if I didn’t start I wouldn’t get it done. And I pieced it together every week. It was hard, it was brutal, it was so hard.

The controversy of Hounddog rape scene

‘Hounddog’ premiered in competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and was given a limited release in 11 North American theaters on September 19, 2008.

Headlines about the rape scene came out on July 21, 2006, the very day that the movie wrapped filming. Later, the movie was banned in many cities because of the rape scene.

The film garnered a great deal of attention, and generated intense controversy, owing to the use of a very young actress in a role that included a rape scene far before reaching a consent age. Though the scene only showed Fanning’s face and her character’s reaction to the trauma of the act, it became known as the “Dakota Fanning rape movie” at the Sundance Film Festival.  Fanning expressed ire towards the attacks against her family, most of which she said were directed toward her mother. She said: “When it gets to the point of attacking my mother, my agent … my teacher, who were all on the set that day, that started to make me mad … They hadn’t seen the movie. There are so many children that this happens to, every second. That’s the sad part. If anyone’s talking about anything, that’s what they should be talking about.”

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