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“Sleeping and Waking”, Better to Quit While You’re a Head?

Elizabeth Jernigan and Jeff Allin

As its title implies, Sleeping and Waking is hard to put in a category.  The movie is a cross between a love story and a mid-life crisis with a twist. It’s a bit of a Shelly-esque thriller with a plot that reveals itself at the pace of a film from the ‘40s.  While Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was never considered anything but fiction this film reflects the current state of science and the medical arts and the new norm they engender like face transplants and babies born to long-dead fathers.

The main character, Sully, has undergone a unique operation which magnifies the intensity and expansiveness of his soul-searching. Seeds of existential doubt and self-loathing bore into his subconscious as Sully realizes how his efforts to alter fate are impotent at best.  Describing the scope of Sully’s identity crisis as that of an artist who loses his ability to paint and husband who no longer feels worthy of his wife’s love, only hints at the character’s challenges at coming to terms with what constitutes Sully.

Veteran television actor Jeff Allin is tormented, understated and Brando-esque in his portrayal of Sully.  Jeff is an accidental thespian.  It wasn’t until this former introverted athlete saw a cute drama student on his California college campus that he decided to give acting a try.  It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair, with the craft but not the girl.  Jeff went on to marry an actress and become a father to two sons.  Jeff says he and his wife have been very fortunate to have successful working-actor careers.  He also acknowledges that while his family has been fed by Hollywood he turns to the stage to feed his creative soul.

Jeff Allin

Sleeping and Waking is director Joe Banno’s first feature-length film and he couldn’t be happier with it.  Banno is a native Long Islander who journeyed from Chaminade High School film critic to earn degrees from both Georgetown and Carnegie Melon. He is an extremely knowledgeable lover of all forms of theater and film.  His last 25 years, mainly in the Washington DC area, have been spent directing hundreds of stage performances including opera and contemporary Shakespearean productions. He has received a long list of commendations for excellent directing work including 8 Helen Hayes awards.

Joe Banno

When approached with the screenplay for Sleeping and Waking Joe was intrigued, and after seeing all of the key players assembled, he agreed to direct.  Although most of the people involved were first-timers to a feature film, every single one of them has an impressive resume of artistic credentials with most of the actors coming from a theater background. Banno’s musical sensibility plays an important role with original compositions that do yeoman’s work setting the tone throughout the production. The budget for Sleeping and Waking was limited but Joe says the caliber of acting, music composition and cinematography combined to deliver this polished film.

Once again Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre has brought a thoughtful and poignant film to our village. Perhaps it is the moral question at the center of the film that draws the viewer in or it could be the symbiotic relationship between stage –director and stage actors delivering nakedly honest and truthful performances that will leave you with the need to do some soul searching of your own.

Cinema Arts Centre will be having a special screening of Sleeping and Waking on June 30th that’s worth checking out.

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1 comment to “Sleeping and Waking”, Better to Quit While You’re a Head?

  • Wesley Allin

    HEY, I’m Wesley ANN Allin, Jeff’s youngest “son” and I am here to inform you that I am a girl, not a boy. Just because I have a commonly male name, does not mean that I am one.. sooo thanks..

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