A Documentary by Shelby Hougui
Director of Photography - Julia De Santis
Assistant Director - Keren Nechmad
A documentary about the power of childhood memory, friendship, and communication told through the reconnection between a young woman, her uncle Karl, and his two dogs.
To break bread is an offering of oneself on the part of all parties. It’s to share your home and your life. To offer peace, love, and friendship, even to the strangers at your table.
"Bread Machine" is the winner of the 2018 "Outstanding Documentary Award" at the Dusty Film Festival!
I reached out to Karl, my Aunt's former boyfriend, in February 2017, after not seeing him for four years, telling him that, quite bluntly, I missed him and I wanted to come upstate and film him for a week. I’ve wanted to make a documentary about Karl since I was 16 years old, and it was time.
As a hermit, he was obviously reluctant, not wanting to allow people access to his life, and perhaps even more sacred, his thoughts. After some back and forth, and a guarantee that the crew would be small and that he could draw any lines he wanted, he agreed. He was trusting me to bring people into his life he had never met, with the understanding that the week would be both emotional and personal, but something I needed to do. He wrote:
OK, so you have my interest. I particularly like the aspect that you do all the work. I know that it is dysfunctional for me to want to be invisible to the world and I am willing to confront that because your goals are positive and the opportunity to be a part of your handiwork is does, in fact, make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. As I see it, there are two benchmark potential outcomes. One is that the whole thing turns out to be a bust, in which case its failure assures my anonymity and I fretted over nothing. At the other end of the spectrum, your insight and talent could be recognized far and wide and, and in that case, my anonymity would be an insignificant price to pay for the chance to be a part of something very significant. It would appear that the benefits will outweigh the costs for every foreseeable outcome. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. That is my analysis.
“Bread Machine” is a film about comfort zones and breaking them. It’s a film about friendship, and hardship, and experience. It’s a story of human connection and communication, and how unexpected it often is.
"Three of us spent a week with [shelby's] uncle, Karl, who–simply put–is a hermit, though the label is a shameful reduction of a beautiful man. The film unfurled itself as a document of a week wholly shared rather than a character study in which we were hidden--even cordoned--well behind a fourth wall. To that end, what unfolded was profound, chaotic, heartbreaking, and hilarious all in equal measure." – Julia De Santis, Director of Photography