Still from South Mountain, image courtesy of SXSW

SXSW Interview with Film Chair Hilary Brougher for 'South Mountain'

April 24, 2019

Headshot of Hilary BrougherSouth Mountain, written & directed by faculty member Hilary Brougher, made its world premiere in the Narrative Feature Competition at the South By Southwest Film Festival last March. It was selected as one of IndieWire's Must-See Films at the festival.


Filmmaker Magazine wrote that Brougher, “has been making inventive, emotionally acute independent film across three decades now, always working in some degree of low to ultra-low budget.” In an interview with the magazine, Brougher said, “South Mountain began from a practical place. I wanted to make a 'simple' film so I could enjoy more creative control and certainty around the timing of when it would be made.”


In an interview by SXSW, Brougher said she was motivated to make the film for a number of reasons, including, “Wanting to re-lens the idea of what we can find cinematically beautiful which meant using some of the fabric of my own world, and see if anyone else would find it meaningful.”


“Home is where the heart breaks," Brougher went on to say, "Love thrives in compost... Letting go is as an important part of love as holding on. Hopefully it comes across with more subtlety and humor than that.”


Brougher’s first film, The Sticky Fingers of Time, showed at SXSW in 1997, and she said of the festival, “I think this is the place to begin again. So long as you finish a few things, you can never begin again enough.”


In South Mountain, Lila is an artist who teaches at a community college and has built a modest rural paradise in New York's Catskill Mountains with her husband, Edgar. Soon after their teen daughters head off on Summer adventures, and her best friend Gigi begins Chemotherapy, Edgar reveals he's begun a new family with another woman, leaving Lila alone for a season of explosive grief and self re-discovery that focuses on an unconventional friendship with a younger man.


The film is produced by alumna Kristin Frost '16, associate produced by alumni Giovanni Ferrari '15 and Nadia Zoe '17, line produced by alumnus Raj Trivedi '17, with art direction by Eric Unverzagt '17, post-production supervision by Jon Branden '17, colorist by Markus Englmair '16, and head credits to designer Andrew Stephen Lee '18.


Brougher made her first feature in 1997, The Sticky Fingers of Time (SXSW, Venice, Rotterdam Int’l Fests). Her second feature, Stephanie Daley, starring Amber Tamblyn and Tilda Swinton, premiered at Locarno and at Sundance in 2006 where it won The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. She is currently the Film Chair at Columbia University.