Coyote Lake, the feature filmmaking debut of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Sara Seligman, is having its US premiere on August 2 before screening for the public in a limited theatrical release. Written and directed by Seligman, the film stars, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Adriana Barraza (Amores Perros, Thor), Camila Mendes (Riverdale, The Perfect Date), and Manny Pérez (Homeland, Luke Cage).
The film is an intense thriller about a mother and daughter who rob and drown drug runners in their home near the border between Texas and Mexico. One night, two drug runners take them hostage, unaware of exactly who they’re dealing with. Coyote Lake began as Seligman’s first-year thesis, a 17-minute short she made while attending the 2-Year Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus, which she co-wrote with fellow NYFA classmate Ian Cobb. Seligman was inspired by an old newspaper article Seligman’s mother described to her about a French daughter and mother during World War I who killed soldiers in a very similar manner as Coyote Lake’s protagonists. The parent-child psychology and dynamic between the mother and daughter interested her even more than their sensationalist story.
“While murder is obviously very far from a ‘normal’ upbringing,” Seligman states in the film’s Director’s Statement, “this story was ultimately about one’s coming-of-age: learning about yourself and who you want to become, which felt like a universally relatable theme I could explore.”
However, Seligman still felt there was more story than what a short film could explore. “I always knew,” she continues, “that there was much more to discover in this story, and that’s why I decided to write the feature version. I wanted to explore all the little details of that mother-daughter relationship. But what the thesis film lacked, and what I wanted in the feature, was for this story to happen in the present day, in a world that was relevant to me, and everyone watching.”
Seligman than adapted the screenplay into a feature with fellow NYFA classmate Thomas Bond, based on the cartel violence of real-life Falcon Lake, a reservoir by the US-Mexico border. The script was part of Film Independent’s Fast Track program, and was awarded the Tribeca Film Institute’s TAA Grant. She eventually filmed it with a stellar cast, led by Camila Mendes from The CW’s Riverdale and Adriana Barraza, who was Oscar-nominated for her role in Babel.
The filmmaker originally hails from Mexico and while Coyote Lake is her feature directorial debut, she has been very productive since graduating NYFA. After working as a production assistant, Seligman became a producer and joined the PGA, working on both high-profile projects as well as her own personal ones, including Plan V, a screenplay she sold in 2015 that was released in Mexico last year. She produced, wrote, and directed the short film Diego, which screened at over twenty film festivals around the world and won multiple awards, including the Gold Lion at the Barcelona Film Festival.
Coyote Lake will have its US premiere on August 2, accompanied by a Q&A panel. The film will then have a limited theatrical release in select locations across the country. During its release, you can find Coyote Lake at the following theaters:
Los Feliz 3 – Los Angeles
IFC Center & AMC Empire – New York City
Cosford Cinema – Miami, FL
North Oaks – Houston, TX
Galaxy – Austin, TX
Gateway – Columbus, OH
Coyote Lake will later screen as part of HBO’s New York International Latino Film Festival Official Selection in New York City.
New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Sara Seligman on her feature directorial debut and encourages everyone to see Coyote Lake during its theatrical release![UPDATE (1/2/2020): Coyote Lake is now available on all HBO platforms in the US – NYFA encourages everyone to check out the debut feature by NYFA Filmmaking alum Sara Seligman today!]