Kate Bosworth teams up with husband and filmmaker Michael Polish for their self-financed film Nona, short for No Name, which tells the story of a girl from Honduras who meets a charming boy who promises her safety in America, only to be led into the world of sex trafficking.
The actress sat down with The Hollywood Reporter In Studio to discuss the film’s heavy subject matter and why it was important to tell this story.
“So much of the reason that we wanted to make this movie was to inform how this happens and why it happens, because so often we get the result,” she said.
“Like this massage parlor was busted and that’s the result. Or this sex house was busted and that’s the result. There’s these girls and that is the thing that you hear about but so often, it’s not explained how does this happen and why does someone decide to do it, or how does this person end up in this situation.”
Bosworth, who executive produced the film, also spoke on self-financing the project in order to have Polish’s vision come through on screen.
“So much of this has to do with why we self-financed it. First of all, the subject matter is a tough sell. Period. It’s heavy,” she explained. “The fact that [Polish] was adamant about it being in Spanish because he said that if there’s a young girl in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with very little education, she’s not going to be fluently speaking English at that point in her life.”
She continued: “And he wanted to cast an unknown Latino girl. All these things were elements where people were like, ‘But could you cast so-and-so.’ And Michael was, ‘Well, I really want her to be faceless and nameless, because it’s the point of the movie. No Name. You don’t know her name, you don’t know her face, and then ultimately by the end, you do.’ That’s sort of the whole point of the movie. So, there were things people wanted from us in order to green light it and he was pretty adamant about the authenticity of it.”
The actress has worked on previous films with Polish, including 90 Minutes in Heaven, Big Sur and Amnesiac. Speaking on him, she told THR, “I think being a part of this movie and knowing Michael, and knowing his work is just knowing you will not fail when you work with him. He won’t let you. It’s such an amazing, immersive, creative experience.”
Watch the video above to hear Bosworth also discuss the film’s stars, worrying about Polish’s safety in Honduras and more.
Kate Bosworth and director Michael Polish’s Make Pictures Productions is developing a docuseries with journalist Andrew Bevan and Wilshire Studios, the parties have announced. Billed as a teen series and as yet untitled, the project has director Polish (Nona) on board as a co-executive producer with co-creators Bosworth and Bevan.
The docuseries is envisioned as unveiling young adults from across the country revealing themselves through a combination of investigative journalism and offbeat storytelling. “Each episode reminds us that, despite the vast scope of our ever-evolving and unraveling world, we alone define ourselves and the choices we make,” according to a statement by the parties.
Bosworth’s past projects include Superman Returns and Blue Crush, while Bevan has spent time as a journalist (Vogue, Architectural Digest, Harper’s Bazaar), creative content director for 6 Degrees, brand strategist (Chanel, Levi’s, Nike) and is the former Teen Vogue Style director/editor.
Bosworth is repped by CAA, Management360 and Alex Kohner at Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Polish is repped by Oren Segal at Management Production Entertainment and Alex Kohner at Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Bevan is repped by Jon Levin at Fourward.
Wilshire Studios produces such series as Netflix series The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell; E!’s late night talk show Busy Tonight with Busy Philipps; Oxygen’s Unspeakable Crimes: The Killing of Jessica Chambers; Emmy-nominated Mysteries & Scandals; and the inaugural E!’s People’s Choice Awards.
Make Pictures Productions was formed in 2017 as a joint venture between husband-and-wife team Polish and Bosworth. Nona, which received the Richmond International Film Festival’s Founder’s Award in 2018, is the first feature co-produced by the company. Its upcoming slate includes sci-fi film Genesis and the Sharon Tate biopic Tate.
If anyone knows the ins and outs of Hollywood, it’s Kate Bosworth, whose acting career started when she was just 15. In the years since her 1998 debut film The Horse Whisperer, the actor has starred in many successful projects, but her newest role is that of producer. Along with her husband, Michael Polish, Bosworth created a production company and opened a film school in Montana in 2018. And now, she’s teamed up with Chloe Wine Collection and Women In Film to hold the 2019 She Directed female filmmakers contest, which will set up four aspiring women directors with mentorships, and one with a $10K cash prize.
The ultimate goal of the contest, Bosworth (who’s one of the judges) says, is for there to be more representative stories told in Hollywood. “What I hope people will do with this initiative is to really be inspired and challenged to tell a story that’s unique to them, [because] the stories that I’ve always loved most in my life are… ones that are unique or different or something that I hadn’t really thought of before,” she explains, speaking via phone.
Bosworth isn’t just encouraging other women to share their work through directing and writing, though — she’s also using her producing cred to tell stories about underrepresented people Her company’s recent movie, Nona, for instance, which came out in December and is available on-demand, co-stars Bosworth and follows a girl from Honduras named Nona (Sulem Calderon) who tries to migrate to the U.S., but instead falls victim to a human trafficking ring.
With Nona, Bosworth hoped to raise awareness about human trafficking, which is a colossal issue; according to a 2017 report from the International Labor Organization, 3.8 million adults were victims of forced sexual exploitation in 2016. “If it were more in the open, people would rise up and just refuse to accept this because it is modern day slavery,” says Bosworth. Nona makes clear that these victims aren’t faceless statistics. “Our aim and our hope for the movie was to connect with a deeper sense of humanity with the issue and also to connect with a deeper sense of empathy,” explains the actor “It’s not just someone else’s problem… These are human beings.”
Nona was self-funded — “I quite literally put my money where my mouth was in this one,” says Bosworth — and it’s an example of the real work the star is doing to depict greater representation on-screen. It’s a passion she’s always had, even before she started working behind-the-scenes. She recalls how, with her 2008 film 21, she requested a re-write on her character, Jill, to be made more realistic. Says the actor, “The way [Jill] was originally written was like, [wearing] high heels running around the campus. There wasn’t a lot to her.” Luckily, she was able to collaborate with the film’s writer to enhance the character. “I was just lucky that I had a collaborator who was willing to listen to a young woman at the time,” Bosworth says.
Other times, Bosworth wasn’t so lucky when attempting to change aspects of her characters. “I’ve had a lot of other moments where it’s like, ‘pat on the head, we don’t really need your opinion, just say the line,'” she recalls. She did have a great experience playing Anne Marie Chadwick in 2002’s blockbuster Blue Crush, a character she deems a great example of a complex on-screen woman. Then-Vice President of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley, and producer Brian Grazer, were committed to making Blue Crush as realistic as possible, says Bosworth — even though they knew she didn’t share her character’s love of surfing.
“When Blue Crush came to me, I’d never touched a surfboard in my life but I was like, I know this girl and I know what it feels like to want a dream so badly that you’ll crawl across broken glass or drown or whatever it might be,” Bosworth recalls. “There was an affinity to this character that wasn’t for the sport, it was through the actual person, and I love that that movie continues to touch people.”
Since Blue Crush, Bosworth has taken on many different projects she finds important, including a TV show, The I-Land and a movie, The Devil Has a Name, both out this year. “It really matters to me that I hold myself accountable to do the best that I can,” says the actor, “because what’s the point otherwise?” And with her production company and contest, she’s inspiring many others to feel the same.
Kate Bosworth is known for her acting roles in films such as Blue Crush, Still Alice, Superman Returns and Before I Wake, but she also has used her talents behind the camera, producing projects such as the upcoming I-Land, Hot Bot and Amnesiac, so it is not surprising that she is partnering alongside Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to provide opportunities for female filmmakers through the launch of She Directed, a campaign and contest that celebrates women in the director’s chair.
“I teamed up with Chloe Wine Collection and Women in Film to help launch She Directed because the film industry is constantly challenged by gender disparity,” she tells Parade.com in this exclusive interview. “Women account for only a small fraction of directors. It’s important to support women in the director’s chair and increase the opportunities for female filmmakers.”
Bosworth has yet to direct her first film, but as mentioned, she is putting her behind-the-scenes skills to use as a producer, and as such, has the just released Nona, available on VOD.
It is the story of a girl from Honduras (Nona), who is searching for a better life in the United States. Through her journey, she is sadly sold into sex trafficking. It was written and directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish, while she served as executive producer and fully financed the film.
“We cast a relatively unknown Latina actress (Sulem Calderon) and the movie is entirely in Spanish,” Bosworth says. “It was important to us to keep the authenticity totally intact in order to tell the purest version of the story for these victims. We felt compelled to tell the narrative story of one girl, so that audiences will better understand the HOW and the WHY an individual is sold into human trafficking.
“These are our daughters, sisters, wives, mothers. So often the statistics of human trafficking will eclipse the humanity and empathy for these individuals. With NONA – we seek to give a face to this global epidemic, and through our art, contribute to making the world a better place.”
Do you think the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements inspired this contest and other female-led initiatives?
I absolutely believe these movements have helped acknowledge the need for more female led initiatives and in that sense, have also helped to inspire more female-forward stories in the entertainment industry. Initiatives like She Directed are so critical at the moment. They are a call to action not only for female filmmakers to create and submit their stories, but also to be rewarded so that they can continue telling their stories. I applaud brands like Chloe Wine Collection for walking the walk. It takes support from all sides — brands included — to move the dial.
One of the goals of the contest — in addition to the cash prize — and maybe a more important one — is to provide the four winning female filmmakers with a professional mentorship.
I am such a big believer in the significance of mentorships. I always communicate to young filmmakers/artists the great value of seeking out mentors. I did not have one myself and I wish I had been more proactive about that when I was younger. I felt too shy or that I would be bothering someone in asking for their time and guidance — and that is so far from the truth. Now, having more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, I offer myself as a mentor to so many young artists. I feel it is absolutely my duty, and an honor to do so. To be a part of someone’s creative growth is an incredibly inspiring experience.
Tell us about the Montana Institute of the Arts that you launched with your husband and how it’s similar to your current work with She Directed.
Yes! We went MIA! Montana is a very important state to Michael and myself. Michael has a lot of family heritage there and we were married there. It’s the perfect place for creativity and yet it is the least funded/supported state for film or the arts. We decided to contribute by starting a two week intensive program in July — guiding the students to bring their stories from script to screen. Teaching at MIA has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. A great example of supporting young female story tellers: one of our female students wrote a great script (and through an acting class, I noticed she is also a great actress). She wrote the main character of her short as a man. When I asked her why, she explained that writing for men was what she was used to doing. Michael and I had her change the main character to a female and encouraged her to play the lead character. She did just that and she shined. The short was one of the best in the class. That entire team who made that specific short was made up of young women. I was – and still am – really proud of them.
You started your career so young. Did you have a mentor or someone who gave you a helping hand that you want to mention?
As I mentioned above, I wish I had sought out mentors more. I feel like I married a partner who has great influence and guidance to my career. Michael is so incredibly supportive and helps me to understand the dynamics of the industry, particularly from a directing stand point. I also feel closely aligned to Donna Langley (President of Universal Pictures). She began her career at Universal the same year we made Blue Crush together, so we will always have a special connection that way. She is incredibly generous with herself as a mentor, particularly given how busy she is! Donna is truly a phenomenal human being.
Will you ever begin directing yourself?
One piece of advice I give to young filmmakers: “Tell your story. The one no one else can tell.” I’m looking for mine. Producing has been a great transition to begin working behind the camera. I am learning so much — from concept to delivery of the picture.
You are starring in the new Netflix series The I-Land. What was it that intrigued you about the project to play the role?
I can’t say much without giving too much away, but I was very intrigued with the concept of instinct. What makes a person who they are? Is it something you are born with or something you learn through experience? These are questions that fascinate me, and thematically I am drawn to both in story and character development. I also produced this series with Netflix and that was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, they are an incredible company to collaborate with.
You also have the movie The Devil Has a Name?
This was such a great movie experience for me. Eddie Olmos [Edward James Olmos] is extraordinary, as a director, as an actor, and most importantly as a person. He is a true original. He allows for pure creative space for everyone involved in the project. It’s a wonderful experience, working with him this way. And he brings an enormous amount of joy to every relationship on set. I would do anything for him. He’s a legend.
Can you tell us about your evolving career and how you were able to transition back and forth between film and TV?
I feel so lucky to have had the career I have experienced and continue to experience. I fell into this industry by accident when I was 14 (Though is anything really an accident? Who knows?). I have done my best to choose roles that fulfill me and that have integrity. I really adore working on TV. Obviously, it has evolved into a space with great opportunity to explore characters in a deeper and more patient way than 90 minutes can achieve. With that said, I will always remain loyal to the romance of the big screen. She has no comparison that way.
What do you appreciate about being in your 30s? Is there more a sense of confidence? Knowing who you are? Taking the bull by the horns when there is something you desire?
Funny you say that. One of the characters I am developing at the moment is a female bull rider. So yes. Without a doubt.
In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up.
Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the campaign She Directed to honor women in front of and behind the camera.
Part of the campaign includes a contest for female filmmakers to submit their films that feature women at the center of the story for the chance to earn professional mentorship and a cash prize. Bosworth, who is starring in and producing the upcoming “The I-Land” sci-fi series, tells Variety she wanted to get involved as it was the intersection of her three favorite things — “women, film, and wine” — and it was an opportunity to celebrate female-centered narratives.
“I’m always a big fan of brands who put their money where their mouth is. That’s really where you can start getting things out in front of people,” Bosworth says. “Putting people in front of people that are going to start moving the dial and dialogue, it’s really going to make a difference.”
While there have been many strides made to improve representation of women on screen, Bosworth says there’s one issue she’s noticed repeatedly throughout her entire career that not enough people are addressing. When it comes to casting, a male lead usually get hired before the actress, even if a woman is the protagonist of the movie.
“Ultimately, what it says to me is that we don’t matter as much as a different sex,” Bosworth says. “You don’t have as much value is what that says to me, or you’re not important enough. And I think that’s the wrong message to be sending out to anyone.”
Studios often operate under the notion that a male star can rack up more ticket sales at the box office compared to his female counterpart. Bosworth argues against that assumption, pointing to “The Favourite,” a female-led film with a “bold feminist stroke.” It scored 10 Oscar nominations and made $76 million at the box office to date.
“There’s this misconception of women at the forefront of a movie, that that’s just a catastrophe, that’s never going to succeed, that it will be a box office failure. And we’re seeing time and time again, that that’s just not the case,” she says. “I never would have expected that for the 20 years i’ve been working I’ve heard we have to cast a male first, and now, I’m hearing so much in the world of, ‘We’re looking for female-forward material,’ ‘We’re looking for women-led pieces,’ and that’s very, very exciting.”
Along with She Directed, Bosworth also calls Time’s Up “an absolute game changer,” and says it’s taught even an industry veteran like her a thing or two.
“It’s the smaller things that I think we also need to be mindful of, that we need to improve, like thinking about casting things equally or … you’ll read parts and think, ‘Well, this could be a male or female role,’ so it’s not so gender specific,” she says. “[We should] really start thinking about things with more equality in that way and be very mindful about diversity and gender equality. I think it’s been an incredible movement that way. It’s opened my eyes, and I’ve seen quite a bit.”
The She Directed campaign kicks off Feb. 22, at the 12th annual Women in Film Oscar Nominees Party in Los Angeles. Film submissions for the contest will be accepted through July 7.
Kate is in New York today doing loads of promotion for the film Nona. Check out interviews she did today with Kelly and Ryan and Access, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Build Series. She also did interviews with Sirius XM, Good Day America Day and SAG-AFTRA Conversations. I’ll add those videos when they surface. Be sure to tune into the Late Night with Seth Meyers where she will be a guest tonight.
I’ve added a bunch of photos from all her appearances today to the gallery under Nona‘s promotions. She looks so lovely! Big thanks to my friend Mary for a bunch of these. More photos to come. Enjoy.
‘Nona’ Build Series
‘Nona’ Leaving Build Series / Arriving at Seth Meyers
‘Nona’ Arriving/Leaving Kelly and Ryan Show
‘Nona’ SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations
‘Nona’ Arriving/Leaving SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations
‘Nona’ Sirius XM
‘Nona’ Arriving/Leaving Sirius XM + Access Hollywood
‘Nona’ Late Night with Seth Meyers
‘Nona’ Good Morning America Day
‘Nona’ Arriving/Leaving Good Morning America Day
‘Nona’ Premiere (New York)
‘Nona’ Premiere (New York) – Panel
‘Nona’ Citizens of Humanity and National Geographic launch of the Humanity Issue No12
2018: Photo Session #009
2018: Photo Session #010
UPDATED with release date info: North of Two has set a December 7 release date for Nona, Kate Bosworth and Michael Polish’s feature film that the distributor acquired in May. The film, which puts a face to Central America’s sex trafficking industry, was produced under the couple’s Make Pictures Productions. It will be released beginning in Los Angeles and New York.
Nona tells the story of a girl from Honduras who meets a charming boy, Hecho who promises to get her safely to America to reunite with her mother. Instead, Nona faces a perilous journey when he doesn’t deliver on that promise. Nona — short for No Name — will deliver a message to change the way the world is dealing with sex trafficking.
“All of our North of Two filmmakers define the spirit, determination and grit that living North of Two means,” said CEO Mark Cartier. “Both Kate and Michael have created something beautiful with NONA that goes beyond the typical film experience. It embodies everything “North of Two” is about and we are excited about this new partnership.”
“Michael and I are devoted to Nona, and we feel the subject matter is more crucial than ever. After reviewing numerous offers, it became clear that there was no better choice than North of Two. Their experience, passion, and renegade spirit mirrors how we made the movie. We have met our match,” said Bosworth.
Further solidifying this partnership, North of Two supports female filmmakers and diversity, helping to bring stories to life on more than one level. The company recently financed the completion Adolescence directed by Ashley Avis (who is the writer-director for the Black Beauty remake).
North of Two also recently partnered with writer-director-producer Angela Shelton on Heart Baby, the true-life boxing drama that bowed earlier this month. Before the ink was dry on her first feature, North of Two produced, financed and are now distributing her second feature, The Eagle and the Albatross. North of Two has already signed on for her next two features and a TV series.
Bosworth will next be seen in Netflix’s sci-fi series The I-Land, on which she will star and produce. She most recently starred in the National Geographic series The Long Road Home and MGM’s The Domestics. She is repped by CAA, Management 360 and Morris Yorn.
Polish’s recent credits include the Jack Kerouac adaptation of Big Sur and 90 Minutes in Heaven, both starring Bosworth. His next project is Axis Sally, which stars Al Pacino. He is repped by Management Production Entertainment and Morris Yorn.