Directed by Rowan Woods
Release Date: 9 July 2009
Running Time: 104 minutes
A moment of random violence erupts in an ordinary Los Angeles diner. The survivors (Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Forest Whitaker)
find that the meanings of their lives have changed. No matter how much their families and friends (Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Embeth Davidtz) attempt to understand, these individuals must follow their own paths to recovery seeking to regain trust in a world that now seems chaotic.
A story of tragedy and hope for our times, Winged Creatures is a powerful
ensemble drama that explores the notion that our lives are fleeting, like birds in flight, like winged creatures.
In 2006, WINGED CREATURES came to me while I was in Los Angeles with my wife and three kids. We had ventured from Australia on a world safari, stopping off in Vietnam on the way to the US. We had plans to travel to Europe before heading back to Australia through the Middle East.
While in Los Angeles, I was concerned with the number of shootings in our new neighborhood, and the quiet ferocity of WINGED CREATURES struck me as a screenplay that confronted the hypocrisy of the US gun lobby without being overtly political.
My second movie (LITTLE FISH), starring Cate Blanchett as a recovering junkie, was in US theatres at the time and like my first movie (THE BOYS), the subject matter was tough and uncompromising. As a result, my agent suggested we find a less intense, more audience-friendly project for my first American movie.
While Roy Freirich's WINGED CREATURES wasn't quite the happy
antidote we were looking for, it was too tempting. It dwelled on the human side of a senseless shooting. The script grabbed hold of me and didn't let go, just as it had hooked producer Bob Salerno (21 GRAMS) several years before.
From New York, Bob had revealed to me his experience of the events of September 11 and how WINGED CREATURES for him was in some ways a cathartic re-examination of the aftermath of those tragic events. I later discovered that the screenplay had already gained a strong, positive reaction from Forest Whitaker and other luminaries who spoke about the story structure that boldly linked the characters' traumatic free-fall.
Financing the project was very tough as was the shooting on a very low budget considering the 240 plus scenes and 50 plus locations. And the edit was grueling. But it was a wonderful journey. I had a very devoted, loyal cast and crew who rallied under intense pressure like no others I had worked with. I felt very close to them and very grateful when we completed the schedule inside 26 days with no major hiccups. The post-production unfortunately stretched longer than planned. The five interweaving storylines and flashbacks made for a million interpretations and I was grateful for the respectful notes coming from all sides.
And so it is with a heavy heart that I let the movie go with all the usual fear and uncertainty.
On looking back at WINGED CREATURES after nearly a year and
another film under my belt, I recognize what I feared and loved in the original screenplay: a relentless cause-and-effect narrative; a bold didacticism on the subject of Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorders; and an earnest tone, daringly devoid of irony, which in itself invites a cynical response.
All of these traits atop a multi-storyline, time-trick structure which has become a common place sub-genre with the films of Paul Haggis (CRASH), Alejandro González Iñárritu (BABEL) and other bigger studio movies already part
of cinema history.
What is perhaps even more exciting and treacherous is the movie's search for hope.
According to conventional wisdom, making a movie to explicitly achieve an against-all-odds happy ending should be avoided at all costs. But constructing a story that can end with the plausible salvation of all its heroes is perhaps viable. And it could be relevant if, in the case of WINGED CREATURES, the hero's sense of reason has been shattered into pieces during a random shooting.
But it is a fine line you walk, because the smart cinema audience does not want easy answers. If they smell an easy answer and a 'happy ending', you are dead. WINGED CREATURES tread this line.
WINGED CREATURES should be a reminder that we have become
immune to the real hurt and suffering of innocent victims caught in the midst of extreme violence - suffering that lingers long after a shooting occurs.
And WINGED CREATURES treads a dangerous line by suggesting that the self-torment, the guilt and the disillusion suffered by the innocent victims of a gun crime are often alleviated in the fullness of time. In the real world, there is real hope.
English actress Kate Beckinsale is revealing herself to be one of films‟
most versatile and charismatic actresses. She first gained notice in Kenneth Branagh‟s Much Ado About Nothing and then subsequently appeared as the heroine of John Schlesinger‟s Cold Comfort Farm, Whit Stillman‟s The Last Days
of Disco opposite Chloe Sevigny, Jonathan Kaplan‟s Brokedown Palace opposite
Claire Danes and in the British comedy Shooting Fish. Additional film credits
include Haunted opposite Aidan Quinn, and Manuel Fleche‟s Mary Louise ou la
In 2001, Beckinsale starred opposite Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett in Disney‟s epic Pearl Harbor. She starred opposite John Cusack in Serendipity,
opposite Matthew McConaughey and Gary Oldham in Tiptoes and opposite
Christian Bale and Frances McDormand in the ensemble drama Laurel Canyon.
Film appearances include starring opposite Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing and
starring in the hit vampire tales Underworld and sequel Underworld: Evolution for
Sony Screen Gem. Beckinsale also starred as screen legend „Ava Gardner‟ in
Martin Scorcese‟s The Aviator, in the Screen Gems thriller Vacancy opposite
Luke Wilson and the comedy blockbuster Click opposite Adam Sandler. She was
last seen in the independent drama Snow Angels opposite Sam Rockwell,
directed by David Gordon Green.
Her television appearances include playing the title role in A&E‟s Emma
and in One Against the Wind for Hallmark Films. On the stage, she has appeared in “Clocks & Whistles”, “Sweetheart,” and the British National Touring production of “The Seagull.” Beckinsale will next be seen in the action thriller Whiteout
produced by Joel Silver, the independent drama Winged Creatures opposite
Forest Whitaker and Dakota Fanning, and Nothing But The Truth opposite Alan
Alda and Matt Dillon slated for Winter 2008.
Forest Whitaker is one of Hollywood‟s most accomplished actors, directors, producers who has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles.
The year 2007 is a year to remember for Whitaker. After winning almost every Critics Award, he received the Academy Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe for Best Actor, the Best Actor SAG and BAFTA Awards for his performance as Uganda dictator Idi Amin in Fox Searchlight‟s “The Last King of
Scotland.” The film is a historic drama which documents the regime‟s brutality
during the 1970‟s as seen through the eyes of his personal physician. In addition to this acclaim, his independent film “American Gun,” a movie which in which he
starred and produced, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
Whitaker has garnered critical attention for his performance on last season‟s “The Shield” opposite Michael Chiklis, as well as for his appearance on “ER” this season, for which he garnered an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. He recently wrapped “Where the
Wild Things Are” for Warner Bros. and Playtone for director Spike Jonze, as well. The film will be a mix of live-action, animation and puppetry and is an adaptation of the Maurice Sendak classic children‟s book and will release this year. Whitaker
is also in the post-production stage of the film “Winged Creatures” which tells the
story of a diverse group of strangers who form a unique relationship with each other after surviving a shooting at a Los Angeles diner. Alongside Whitaker stars Dakota Fanning, Jackie Earl Haley, Jennifer Hudson and Kate Beckinsale. Finally, Forest has completed filming of “Powder Blue” with Jessica Biel and Ray
Liotta, as well as “Repossession Mambo,” based on the novel by Eric Garcia also
starring Jude Law. Whitaker was recently seen in “The Great Debaters” opposite
Denzel Washington, for which he acquired an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. He was last seen in the suspense thriller “Vantage Point” for Sony Pictures opposite Dennis Quaid and
Matthew Fox, as well as the thriller “Street Kings,” with Keanu Reeves. Forest
most recently wrapped filming “Hurricane Season,” where he plays a basketball
coach, trying to assemble a team a year after Hurricane Katrina.
At the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, Whitaker wowed audiences with three outstanding films. He starred in a compelling, dark thriller entitled “A Little Trip to Heaven” opposite Julia Stiles. Whitaker delivered a
shuddering performance and proves that he is one of the best actors of his generation in the fundamentally subversive and religiously complex film “Mary”
opposite Matthew Modine. Finally he executive produced and starred opposite Donald Sutherland in the film “American Gun” for IFC Films.
With three college scholarships already under his belt, Whitaker received a fourth scholarship, set up by Sir John Gielgud, upon his entrance to the drama program at Berkeley. A seasoned stage veteran at 21, baby-faced Whitaker made his film debut in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” From that
point onward, Whitaker has been making history. In 1988, Whitaker was named Best Actor at The Cannes Film Festival for his brilliant portrayal of jazz legend Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood‟s “Bird,” a role for which he also received a
Golden Globe nomination. Whitaker earned widespread recognition for his performance as “Jody,” the hostage British soldier in Neil Jordan‟s Academy-
Award winning film “The Crying Game.” On the silver screen, Whitaker garnered
a Cable Ace Award nomination for his performance in the Showtime original film, “Last Light,” directed by Kiefer Sutherland. He also starred in the HBO presentation “Criminal Justice,” for which he earned a Cable Ace Award
nomination, and “The Enemy Within,” for which Whitaker received a Screen
Actor‟s Guild nomination.
In 2000, Whitaker played the title role of a spiritual gangster in “Ghost Dog:
The Way of the Samurai,” directed by Jim Jarmusch. The film premiered at the 1999 Cannes Festival and screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival to critical
acclaim. “Ghost Dog” was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature. The film‟s soundtrack was a co-venture with Whitaker‟s own company
In 2001, Whitaker appeared in “Fourth Angel,” an action thriller set in
London, opposite Jeremy Irons. Forest starred in and executive produced the TV mini-series “Feast of All Saints” which won an Emmy and was nominated in two
other categories. Before that he starred in, and executive produced, “Green
Dragon,” the first feature film production of this entity, which won the Humanitas Award in addition to the Audience Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival. He also produced “Door to Door” starring Bill Macy for TNT under the Spirit
Dance banner. This TV film was nominated for two Golden Globes, one Emmy, and was also honored by the American Film Institute.
In 2002, Whitaker starred in the ASCAP award winning film, “The Panic
Room” by director David Fincher for Columbia Pictures and was nominated for a Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor. Whitaker starred in Joel Schumacher‟s “Phone Booth” for Twentieth Century Fox opposite Colin Farrell, where he received Black Reel and Image award nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a motion picture.
In 2003, Whitaker appeared to critical acclaim opposite Ossie Davis in the Showtime movie “Deacons for Defense”, where he received a SAG nomination
for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. Forest produced “Chasing
Papi,” the first major studio romantic comedy aimed squarely at the Hispanic movie going market for FOX 2000 through SDE. One of his most recent directorial endeavor was entitled “The First Daughter,” for New Regency, was a
romantic comedy starring Katie Holmes
Whitaker made his feature-film directing debut with the critically acclaimed, box-office hit “Waiting to Exhale” for Twentieth Century Fox. He first gained
recognition as a director for his debut film, the 1993 HBO original “Strapped,” for
which he received the “Best New Director” honor at the Toronto Film Festival. He
also directed Twentieth Century Fox‟s film “Hope Floats,” starring Sandra Bullock.
In addition, he acted as executive producer on each of these films‟ multi-platinum
soundtracks that sold over 12 million copies collectively and earned a combined total of 14 Grammy nominations. His short film, “John Henry,” was released in
February 2002 for Black History Month in connection with Disney‟s release of
Peter Pan‟s “Never Neverland.”
Whitaker also executive produced Anne Rice‟s “Feast of All Saints” for
Showtime. His other credits include “Witness Protection” for HBO, “Light It Up,”
Touchstone‟s “Phenomenon,” “Species,” “Smoke,” “Ready to Wear, “Jason‟s
Lyric,” “Platoon,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Consenting Adults,” “Stakeout,” “The
Color of Money,” “Johnny Handsome,” “Downtown,” “Diary of a Hit Man,” “Body
Snatchers,” “Vision Quest” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
Whitaker lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children.
Hailing from Conyers, Georgia, Dakota Fanning began her career at the age of five when she booked her first job on a Tide commercial which opened the gates to her career. Dakota‟s first television appearance was on NBC‟s, “ER”
which then led to guest starring roles on television shows, “The Practice,”
“Malcolm In the Middle,” “Spin City,” “Ellen,” where she played „Young Ellen,‟
“Ally McBeal” where she played „Young Ally McBeal‟ as well as having a Special
Guest Starring role in the final season of “Friends.”
Dakota made her film debut opposite Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer when she played „Lucy‟ in I AM SAM. She was awarded the Critics Choice Award as Best Young Actor and was also the youngest child to have ever been nominated for a SAG Award for her portrayal of „Lucy.‟ Shortly thereafter, she
starred in the Steven Spielberg produced miniseries TAKEN, which not only became the Sci-Fi Channel‟s highest rated show, but also won the 2003 Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries.
Dakota‟s career catapulted soon after when she starred in TRAPPED opposite Charlize Theron, DR SEUSS‟ CAT IN THE HAT opposite Mike Myers,
UPTOWN GIRLS with Brittany Murphy and played the young Reese Witherspoon in SWEET HOME ALABAMA.
In 2004, Dakota starred opposite Denzel Washington in MAN ON FIRE directed by Tony Scott. Her performance earned her a second nomination for a Critics Choice Award.
The following year, Dakota co-starred in HIDE AND SEEK with Robert DeNiro. Her performance in this film earned her the 2005 MTV Movie Award for “Most Frightened Performance.”
In June 2005, Dakota starred with Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg‟s
remake of the HG. Wells classic WAR OF THE WORLDS. Her performance as „Rachel,‟ Tom Cruise‟s daughter, earned Dakota her second Critics Choice Award.
In October 2005, Dakota appeared opposite Kurt Russell in DREAMER which made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. In addition, DREAMER was awarded the Truly Moving Picture Award at the Heartland Film Festival. Dakota was also proud to be a part of the remarkable ensemble of women including Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Sissy Spacek and Robin Wright Penn that appeared in NINE LIVES which had its premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The entire ensemble of women in NINE LIVES was nominated for a Gotham Award in 2005 and the film was nominated for a 2005 Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.
December 2006 marked the theatrical debut of the beloved EB. White novel CHARLOTTE‟S WEB. As the live action role of „Fern,‟ Dakota starred
alongside Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Redford, each of whom voiced animated characters in the film. Dakota was nominated for a 2006 Critic‟s
Choice Award for “Best Young Actress” for her portrayal of „Fern.‟ Also in 2006,
Dakota was awarded ShoWest‟s Best Supporting Actress of the Year Award.
In 2007, Dakota starred in HOUNDDOG which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. She stars opposite Robin Wright Penn and David Morse. Later that year, Dakota completed Rowan Woods‟ ensemble drama WINGED
CREATURES opposite Forest Whitaker and Kate Beckinsale and Paul McGuigan‟s sci-fi thriller PUSH alongside Chris Evans and Djimon Hounsou.
Dakota can next be seen this fall in Fox Searchlight‟s THE SECRET LIFE
OF BEES based on the acclaimed best-selling book by Sue Monk Kidd. Dakota stars as „Lily Owens‟ opposite Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo and Jennifer Hudson.
Dakota‟s voice can be heard in “LILO AND STITCH II,” “MY NEIGHBOR
TOTARO” starring alongside her sister Elle, as well as “CORALINE” with her
fellow voice-over co-star, Teri Hatcher.
At the age of 14, Dakota also does work for charity at the Mattel Children‟s
hospital in Los Angeles, and recently appeared in the “RED” Gap Ad‟s to benefit
AIDS in Africa. She is an avid reader, plays the piano, knits, collects dolls, rides horses and dances ballet. Dakota resides in Los Angeles with her parents and her sister, actress Elle Fanning.
One of the most versatile actors of his generation, Guy made his mark over a decade ago playing a pretty young drag queen in The Adventures of
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The film was a critical and box office hit, becoming one of the 10 most successful Australian films of all time and receiving an Oscar, two Golden Globe nominations, two BAFTAs and numerous AFI nominations. Guy‟s diverse array or roles since that time include Ed Exley in the slick crime drama LA Confidential and the complex amnesiac Leonard Shelby in the
intelligent thriller Memento., and most recently as Charlie Burns in John Hillcoat and Nick Cave‟s IF-Award winning feature, The Proposition.
Guy‟s other recent credits include Two Brothers, from acclaimed French
director Jean-Jacques Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet), the HG Wells adaptation
The Time Machine, directed by the author‟s great grandson Simon Wells, the big
budget adaptation of the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo and the drama
First Snow, shot in New Mexico for first time feature director Mark Fergus. Guy has recently completed shooting Factory Girl directed by George Hickenlooper,
in which he will star as Andy Warhol opposite Sienna Miller in the Edie Sedgwick biopic.
Jennifer Hudson comes from humble beginnings singing in a small Chicago church where week after week she brought the congregation to its feet with her soul-stirring performances.
Hudson blossomed appearing in dozens of talent shows and musical
productions during her grammar and high school years. After her first professional role in a local production of “Big River,” Hudson showcased her four-
octave range and charmed thousands of vacationers as a featured vocalist on the Disney Wonder cruise ship. In 2004, she wowed millions of television viewers during season three of the wildly popular Fox series “American Idol,” where she
captured the hearts of American audiences everywhere.
Her breakout film performance came with her starring role in DREAMGIRLS for which she received an Academy-Award, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and NAACP Image Award and Broadcast Film Critics Association Award. She was also honored by the National Board of Review and was named “Entertainer of the Year” at the Soul Train Awards. In addition, she received three BET Awards nominations including Best Actress, Best Female R&B Artist and Best New Artist.
She will release her highly anticipated debut album with Clive Davis for Arista records on September 30, 2008. She recently co starred in SEX AND THE CITY: THE MOVIE, joining the hit television series' original cast of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristen Davis and WINGED CREATURES whose remarkable cast includes Forest Whitaker, Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce and Jackie Earle Hayley.
Hudson attributes her vocal ability to her late grandmother, Julia Kate Hudson, a long-time choir member.
Embeth Davidtz caught the attention of the world for her genuine and confident portrayal as the Jewish maid opposite Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg‟s Schindler’s List.
Most recently, Embeth appeared in HBO‟s drama series In Treatment,
which is based on the popular and critically acclaimed Israeli series. She also only just completed production on Rowan Woods‟ ensemble drama Winged
Creatures, in which she co-starred alongside an all-star cast including Forest Whitaker, Kate Beckinsale, Guy Pearce, and Dakota Fanning.
Previous film credits include the highly successful Bridget Jones Diary
opposite High Grant and Renee Zellwegger, The Palace Thief, with Kevin Kline
and Patrick Dempsey, Nick Hamm‟s independent film, The Hole, Miramax‟s
Mansfield Park and Disney‟s Bicentennial Man. Other film credits include Robert
Altman‟s thriller, The Gingerbread Man, and the critically acclaimed independent
Born in Lafayette, Indiana, Embeth moved to South Africa at a young age. She later studied at Rhodes University, and began her acting career with the National Theatre Company‟s Romeo and Juliet, for which she received rave