Interview With <em>A Lonely Place for Dying</em> Director Justin Eugene Evans

As the effects of Vietnam continue to mount and many begin to fear the spread of communism, the two men are forced to confront their past.
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A Lonely Place for Dying (currently available on iTunes) is a powerful independent thriller from promising new director Justin Eugene Evans.

Set in 1972, the film centers on a KGB mole, Nikolai Dzerzhinsky (Ross Marquand), who threatens to expose the misdoings within the CIA in exchange for asylum in the United States. Agent Robert Harper (Michael Scovotti) is called in to kill Dzerzhinsky and destroy the evidence he has against the organization.

As the effects of Vietnam continue to mount and many begin to fear the spread of communism, the two men are forced to confront their past.

The compelling film, which was inexplicably banned in Russia, stars James Cromwell and Michael Wincott.

The renowned Wincott (who appeared in last year's Hitchcock) says that he was in awe of Evans' "untainted and untrampled enthusiasm and his love of the work."

"(Working on the film) just lit him up like a Christmas tree. That's a necessary thing to see," the stage and film veteran said.

In a new interview, Evans talked about his inspiration for the award-winning A Lonely Place for Dying and what he hope audiences will take away from the feature.

Why did you choose this project as your first feature?
I've always been fascinated by the Cold War. It was a dirty, grimy, ethically confused game of global chess that somehow has a sense of romance and nostalgia for me. I have a particular affinity to the subject because I'm a Volga German. Our family immigrated to Russia in the 18th century and turned the steppes into farm land. Russia made us two promises; the land would be ours forever and since we were not Russian we could not be forced to serve in their military. The Bolsheviks broke both promises with our people and my great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. in 1918. With a personal history of that scope I think it's obvious why I'm obsessed with the Cold War.

When researching for the film, how much did you learn about the Cold War that you didn't know before?
I was lucky enough to have two amazing consultants. Both Lt. Col. Daniel Marvin, who was in command of two Special Forces units during the Vietnam War, and a CIA officer who hacked the Mir Space Station during the 1980s allowed me to explore the minutia of the era. They educated me on everything from the unusual sounds made by an encrypted telephone line to the rather primitive ways the CIA hacked off-the-shelf technology and improved it for field operatives. Lt. Col. Daniel Marvin spent tremendous time educating me on torture techniques he used in the field of battle. Some were simply too gruesome to put in the film. Our CIA consultant, who prefers to go unnamed, was filled with stories. And while he had some amazing tales about hacking into the primitive computer system of the Mir, which he claims was a PC clone made of off-the-shelf components, I focused on the decor of offices.

A great example, one we didn't get to fully explore, was the complexity of getting in and out of a room. Everything had a tumble lock on it; the door to the floor, the corridor, personal offices, even individual desk drawers... the time it took to unlock everything lead to most CIA desk jockeys eating lunch at their desk.

Facts like this tends to inform my writing more than anything else. It lead to the opening scene. Nikolai Dzerzhinsky is begging to be extracted from a hot zone while his CIA handler is eating a sandwich at his desk in Langley. It's both accurate but I find it perversely funny. To have such power and yet be such a powerless bureaucrat at the same time is a strange paradox.

What do you want audiences to take away from the film?
There are no new lessons about war. Despite that, we need to be constantly reminded of what should be obvious. War is hell, war is misery, there are no rules to combat and everyone comes home broken. Michael Wincott made one of the most profound observations about the film; that the central characters are both struggling with the same issue; how does one be true to one's inherent ethical core when one's job is to be a pawn for a bureaucracy? That is worth pondering. Anything else I could say would give too much away.

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