Last week, we talked about the need for films that not only show us where we’re at as a society and where we’re going, but how it feels. Alongside that, came new stills for Zal Batmanglij’s upcoming eco-thriller The East, a film that speaks to the confounding nature of our generation with a voice that’s refreshing and unique. Brimming with kinetic energy and emotion Batmanglij’s sophomore feature was co-written with Brit Marling, the two exploring similar territory as their first film Sound of My Voice—investigation of identity, the allure of charismatic leaders, and questions of personal belief—but now tackling those questions on a larger scale. And with The East, Batmanglij has proven himself a filmmaker to be excited about, whose career feels important to our current independent cinematic climate with the desire to tell authentic stories that reflect what it means to exist in today.
And with The East, we follow Marling as Sarah, a young ex-FBI agent now working for an elite private intelligence firm who is hired to infiltrate an anarchist collective that is rumored to be attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to come in contact with the harm they’ve inflicted on the masses. But in her time spent with the collective known as The East, her beliefs begin to waver as she starts to sympathize with the group’s leaders and opens her eyes to the wrong doings that so easily go unnoticed.
I think cinema can get at the ineffable and the metaphysical in a way that’s very special. If a play is 80 percent auditory and 20 percent visual, cinema is the reverse. There are moments in film that can get to a place beyond words. Literally things that cannot be described by language—language is too limited. I think that we’re always interested in those kind of endings, trying to arrive at a place after 90 minutes of storytelling just for one breathless moment where the film is articulating something that you’ve always wanted to say but there haven’t been words for.