INTERVIEW: Pastels And Pica with ‘Swallow’ Writer-Director Carlo Maribella-Davis

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IFC Film’s Swallow hits limited theaters and VoD on March 6th. We got the chance to speak with the film’s writer-director Carlo Maribella-Davis about the film. Swallow is the story of Hunter (Haley Bennett), a woman who appears to have it all. A newly pregnant housewife, she seems content to be a homemaker, cleaning and doting on her Ken-doll husband, Richie (Austin Stowell). However, as the pressure to meet her controlling in-laws and husband’s rigid expectations rises, cracks begin to appear in her carefully curated identity.  Then, comes the meaning for the film’s name, when Hunter develops a dangerous habit, and a dark secret from her past seeps out in the form of a compulsive disorder called pica – a condition that has her compulsively swallowing inedible, and oftentimes life-threatening, objects.

Maribella-Davis breaks down how he created the provocative and squirm-inducing psychological thriller, explaining his connection to the story and how he went about constructing an intimate story of a woman unraveling as she struggles to reclaim independence in the face of a patriarchal system. A story told in pastels and trauma, Swallow is a film the forces viewers to understand the trauma and pressure that triggers disorders, a choice made in how Maribella-Davis presents the narrative. You’ll even get to hear about the woman who fainted during the Tribeca Film Festival where it won Bennett won Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film.

When I saw the film at Fantastic Fest 2019, I had a similar experience. Swallow hit me so deeply given my own experience with compulsion in the form of an eating disorder that I chose not to review it. While I love the film, I couldn’t write down how much it hit me, nor look at the film objectively. But in this interview, I got to speak with Maribella-Davis about all those little moments and get into the moments that he chose to showcase an intimate story and a personal one from his own life experience.

Click play on the audio above to hear our conversation about how Maribella-Davis created Swallow, with the intention of telling a larger story about the patriarchal pressures of society. A film closely aligned to social horror, learn more about the tightropes Carlo Maribella-Davis walked to present a story told without shock and focused on emotion.

Swallow is playing in select theaters March 6, 2020, and available on VoD the same day. Visit the film’s website and follow Carlo Maribella-Davis on Twitter at @CMirabellaDavis and the film at @swallowmovie.

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