SUSAN & THOMAS (completed November 2017) is a stream of consciousness narrative based on Susan Sontag's first encounter with her then literary idol Thomas Mann as a 14 year old high schooler with literary ambitions living in 1947 LA, and it is based on Sontag's 1987 New Yorker magazine essay "Pilgrimage." It is a personal take on a true story.
Melissa Chalsma as "the writer" retraces Sontag's steps.
Like Richard Linklater's Boyhood, SUSAN & THOMAS was shot over a 12 year time period in an attempt to evoke the layered, disjointed, and elusive but seamless nature of memory filtered through experience and identification. Though the story is sequential in nature, the non linear visuals mix chronological time showing "the writer" somewhat randomly at different times of her life. Subtle changes in aspect ratio seek to reinforce this idea.
All the signed Thomas Mann books originally belonged to and were given to Mrs. Reach by the master.
Though Sontag's memoir was adapted for the screen, not a single word was changed.