Part of SFFILM Festival
When I’m a Moth
Co-directors Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak are expected to attend. Subject Toshiji Takeshima is expected to attend the screening on April 12.
With sensitivity and a dreamy visual style, When I’m a Moth fictionalizes a moment in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life when different paths could have been taken, while others seem destined. In the summer of 1969, Hillary (a brilliant Addison Timlin) finds herself working at a cannery in Alaska. When she meets two Japanese fishermen—Ryohei (TJ Kayama) and Mitsuru (Toshiji Takeshima)—and strikes up an intimate friendship with one of them, she experiences anxiety about her immediate future, while remaining sure of her ambition for public office.
It is hard to imagine a young Hillary bounding off-road in the outskirts of Alaska, but the essence of a young Clinton is perfectly captured by Timlin—giving the character a familiar vocal inflection as she delivers deeply introspective answers to simple questions, while at the same time showing how she’s imbibing the heady atmosphere of the late ‘60s. Paired perfectly with the stoic and tender Ryohei, Hillary is tempted by this new relationship, but like the titular creature drawn to a light, she knows her ultimate calling. Co-directed by writer/directors Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak, When I’m a Moth takes a seldom-discussed time and place in Clinton’s life and beautifully imagines the details.
Zachary Cotler is a writer as well as a filmmaker who received his BA in English from Cornell University and his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop. His poetry collection, Sonnets to the Humans won the 2012 Sawtooth Poetry Prize and he was awarded the 2014 Colorado Prize for Poetry for Supplice. In 2014, he published his debut novel, Ghost at the Loom. His first film, in which he also partnered with Magdalena Zyzak was Maya Dardel (2017), winner of the Golden Statuette for Best Screenplay at the Prague Independent Film Festival and the Jury Prize for Best Director at Raindance Film Festival. He also wrote and co-directed with Zyzak, The Wall of Mexico (2019), which debuted at SXSW.
Magdalena Zyzak left her native Poland to study film production at USC. She co-wrote and produced a feature, Redland (2009), before returning to school to get her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. In 2015, she produced a second feature, Orion before making her directing debut with Maya Dardel (2017). She has also published a novel, The Ballad of Barnabas Pierkiel (2014).
Language English, Japanese
Director Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyzak
Producer Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyzak
Writer Zachary Cotler
Editor Kant Pan
Cinematographer Lyn Moncrief
Cast Addison Timlin, TJ Kayama, Toshiji Takeshima