PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Domestic violence cases have been increasing since the pandemic and one new film follows the story of a woman who has experienced this brutality first-hand. Its Portland premiere is taking place this October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“HIDE” is a psychological thriller written and directed by Ben Samuels, who lived down the street from a women’s shelter in Pennsylvania for his entire childhood. He wrote the film towards the end of 2020, after speaking to a friend he had not heard from in years.
“The last conversation we had was about a new guy that she was dating, and I didn’t have any foresight,” Samuels said. “I didn’t know what I was talking about. I just thought he was a little narcissistic.”
When they reconnected in 2020, the friend told him about the abusive relationship that she had been in with the same guy she talked about years prior. Her experiences inspired “HIDE.”
“I think because my friend was brave enough to share her story with me, the film’s terror is anchored in authenticity. We didn’t make it fantastical. It was just listening to her — this incredible, powerful woman that I knew at a certain point in her life — [and] realizing that even she had been broken down by this man, and the ways that he’d done it,” Samuels said. “That to me was horrifying enough.”
About four weeks after the script was finalized, Samuels gathered a team of artists to turn his vision into a film in early 2021.
“If we hadn’t all been out of work, there’s no way we would have come together in the way that we did. We all wanted not only to tell a meaningful story, but just to tell stories again. We had been deprived of the thing that was our livelihood, but also our passion. We’re storytellers. We are driven to do this work,” he said.
The story captures a woman’s fight against her husband’s abuse that nearly becomes inescapable during the pandemic’s lockdown. Samuels says the film “is also a social impact tool with national partners to raise awareness and empower everyone to identify the more nuanced intricacies of gaslighting and grooming.”
The film’s protagonist is portrayed by actress Nadine Malouf who has acted in many off-Broadway productions in New York City, Hulu’s “High Fidelity” alongside Zoe Kravitz, HBO series “High Maintenance” and much more.
Recently, Malouf won the Catalina Film Institute’s Best Actress award for her performance in “HIDE.”
“Her performance is sublime and really courageous,” Samuels said. “She came on to it, and I knew that we could make it. I knew that with her involved, it was possible to realize it in all of its complexity and nuance.”
At one point though, Samuels was not sure that he would finish the movie. Just four days into filming, the production process was shut down due to COVID-19. The crew was not able to finish filming until later that year in the summer of 2021.
Samuels and his team are now preparing for the fall film festivals, and they are stopping in the Pacific Northwest for the 10th anniversary of the Portland Film Festival, during which “HIDE” will have three screenings.
Before the Oct. 20 screening at 8:45 p.m., there will be a 3 p.m. panel where local organizations and audience members join the filmmakers to discuss the issue of domestic violence. Additional details on the panel are to come.
“As you’re taking that ride, hopefully, you’re also just seeing those red flags and if it does feel like you or someone in your life or it’s something you recognize from a friend’s life, that’s the opportunity the movie creates: to see those signs for what they are and to start healing our relationships,” Samuels said.