AFI Movie Club: HALF NELSON
Directed by Ryan Fleck and starring Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, HALF NELSON earned a 2006 AFI AWARD as one of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image.
Watch Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck talk about how they got their film HALF NELSON made:
Trivia About HALF NELSON
DID YOU KNOW? HALF NELSON was based on GOWANUS, BROOKLYN, a short film made by filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden after they graduated from NYU Film School.
DID YOU KNOW? GOWANUS, BROOKLYN was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters and Filmmakers Lab and produced over a weekend at a cost of only $800. The goal was to find interested investors to make the feature length version of the film.
DID YOU KNOW? Shareeka Epps made her film debut as Drey in GOWANUS, BROOKLYN. She was cast in the same role in HALF NELSON to star alongside Ryan Gosling, who was the filmmakers’ first and only choice for the role of Dan Dunne in the feature film version.
DID YOU KNOW? Ryan Gosling prepared for the part of Dan Dunne by observing public schoolteacher David Easton in his classroom. Easton’s physical resemblance to Gosling inspired the filmmakers to cast him as Dunne’s brother in the film.
DID YOU KNOW? Some scenes in HALF NELSON were inspired by the music of Broken Social Scene, a popular Canadian collective of artists from different musical acts. The band, which also provides the score for the film, was founded in 2002 and included 17 members at the time of production.
DID YOU KNOW? Ryan Gosling received his first Academy Award® nomination for his portrayal of Dan Dunne in HALF NELSON.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
-Why do the filmmakers have different students talking about difficult dates in history throughout the film?
-What are the different opposing forces throughout the film? Why is Dan an opposing force within himself?
-Dan says that he does drugs to get by, but he can handle it. Can an addict “handle” it? Why does Dan believe that he can?
-When the father of a former student walks up to Dan at a bar, what does Dan not understand because he is intoxicated when he tells him that his daughter was going to Georgetown in the fall?
-Was Dan inappropriate with Drey at the school dance? If so, is this why Drey takes a ride home from Frank instead of Dan after the dance?
-How does Dan’s visit to see his family show a possible cause for his addiction issues? Why does the visit have him crying when he leaves?
-What makes Frank a good influence on Drey? What makes Frank a bad influence on Drey?
-Why does Drey continue to go help Dan? What does Dan mean to Drey?
-How would you rate HALF NELSON?
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