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Catharsis, Recovery And Friendship
With "Things We Lost in the Fire,” Danish director Susanne Bier is making her first American language film following worldwide critical acclaim for her character-driven films, including the 2006 Oscar® nominee "After the Wedding” and two earlier films 2002's "Open Hearts” and 2004's "Brothers,” which was nominated for 11 European Film Academy awards. Bier's straightforward but emotionally potent stories, which often hinge on the repercussions of unexpected events, have earned her a growing international audience - among those who had seen and admired her work was Academy Award®-winning director Sam Mendes.

Following his success with "American Beauty” and "Road to Perdition,” director Sam Mendes' production company was on the receiving end of Hollywood's top new scripts and one of the projects he responded to immediately was "Things We Lost in the Fire” written by Allan Loeb. "It's a very moving, touching original story,” he says. "It's very rare to find movies that, on the one hand, are personal stories about human beings interacting, but on the scale necessary to be a motion picture as opposed to a piece for television.”

Mendes immediately decided to produce the project and went in search of the ideal director for the material. "I felt that it needed a very distinctive voice in terms of a director,” he says. "I wanted it to be as personal a piece of filmmaking as it was a piece of screenwriting. His producing instincts led him in the direction of Bier, whom he compares to Fernando Mereilles, Alejandro González Iñárritu and other talented contemporary filmmakers who've come from non-English speaking countries. "Like Susanne's work, their movies tend to have a similar aesthetic… handheld, a little rougher, grittier and very distinctive…not as conventional as some equivalent moviemaking in this country and my native England,” he explains.

Bier, who was looking for a story to mark her American film debut, concedes that she felt some trepidation in choosing the right material. After reading many scripts, Bier responded to Loeb's drama and the way in which it brought together two people who were struggling to cope with a devastating loss. "I'm always interested in what happens to people in extreme situations. I felt this story was familiar, but at the same time it made me curious…because it was about something that really could happen,” she says. "And I also loved the idea of working with Sam Mendes, which I thought would be stimulating and a lot of fun.”

Her one caveat was that she might not have the same latitude she enjoyed in her native land. "Coming to America, I was expecting that I would experience certain restraints, like being asked to make the movie more mainstream, but in fact it was quite the opposite,” she says. "I received comments like, ‘be more courageous, be more daring…make it more dangerous.'”

When asked what "Things We Lost in the Fire” is about, screenwriter Loeb always says the same thing: "It's about catharsis and recovery,” he proclaims. "That's all I say. That is what it's about. But it's also about friendship.” Loeb had never seen Bier's films before she came aboard as director.

"But when I saw her films ‘Brothers' and ‘Open Hearts,' I was moved. They are both unbelievably powerful,” says Loeb. "As soon as I saw her work, I knew that ‘Things' was right up her alley.”

Set in the Northwest, the story begins with married couple Audrey and Brian (Halle Berry and David Duchovny) enjoying a comfortable life with their two kids, ten-year-old Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and six-year-old Dory (Micah Berry). Although their marriage is good, the one rift between them is Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), Brian's close childhood friend, a lawyer whose life has deteriorated because of his drug dependence. Audrey doesn't understand why her husband continues to exte

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