The Film

80 minutes • Color HD • English • USA • 2015


A womanizing, whiskey-soaked workaholic travels to rural Michigan to sell his dead father's cottage, only to forge an unlikely bond with his brother's fiancée.


In the wake of his estranged father’s death, NEIL MERCER—a successful LA consultant with a penchant for work, whiskey and women—journeys back to the Midwestern village of his youth to help sell the family cottage.

But when a job opportunity compels his younger brother JAMES to leave suddenly, Neil finds himself marooned in the house with REBECCA BRANDT, James’s fiancée, a woman whose youthful demeanor belies an uncanny ability to see through the older man’s haughty façade. An unlikely friendship is forged, one that only intensifies with the discovery that what they share is far more powerful than either of them could’ve expected. As James’s return draws nearer, they find themselves faced with a choice: remain the people they are, or become the ones they want to be—no matter the cost.

Set amid the bleak beauty of wintry rural Michigan, THE MIDDLE DISTANCE takes an honest, clear-eyed look at the demands of kinship, the singular ache of nostalgia, and the possibility that sometimes happy endings are the hardest to bare.


Patrick Thomas Underwood



Ross Partridge

Neil Mercer

Ross Partridge wrote, directed and starred in the film LAMB, which premiered at SXSW this past March. Variety named LAMB as one of the Breakout Movies of the Festival; it went on to win the Independent Visions Best Film Award at the Sarasota Film Festival. He has co-starred in THE OFF HOURS, THE FREEBIE, and BAGHEAD (all Sundance premieres) and the award-winning THE MIDNIGHT SWIM, and has appeared in TV shows such as “HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA,” “THE MENTALIST,” and “BATTLECREEK.” He recently directed the digital series WEDLOCK which stars Mark Duplass, Rob Corddry, and Jennifer Lafleur. Ross can next be seen alongside Nicole Kidman in Billy Ray's SECRET IN THEIR EYES, THE WHITE KING with Agyness Deyn and Fiona Shaw, and in the new Netflix series “STRANGER THINGS “opposite Winona Ryder.

Joslyn Jensen

Rebecca Mercer

Joslyn Jensen is a Brooklyn-based actor and writer. For her work in her first feature film, WITHOUT (2012), she won the Best Actress award at the Marrakech Film Festival and the Mar del Plata Film Festival. Other recent film credits include: FUNNY BUNNY (SXSW, 2015) and JACKRABBIT (TriBeCa Film Festival, 2015).

Kentucker Audley

James Mercer

Kentucker Audley is a filmmaker & actor. Richard Brody of The New Yorker has praised his "thrilling, demanding, unsparing performances in BAD FEVER, SUN DON’T SHINE, CHRISTMAS, AGAIN and elsewhere.” "One of American independent cinema’s most vital figures," says Paste Magazine. LA Weekly calls him "maybe the most fascinating actor in current American penny-budgeted cinema." He has directed films such as OPEN FIVE, named "One of the Top 25 Films of 2010" by The New Yorker and Open Fire 2. He also runs, an online screening venue for new indie films, named by as one of “the premier destinations for ‘true' independent movies.” Most recently, Kentucker co-stars in QUEEN OF EARTH, directed by Alex Ross Perry.

Jennifer Lafleur


Jennifer Lafleur is an actor and producer. She starred in both Sarah Adina Smith's award-winning THE MIDNIGHT SWIM, released theatrically this past summer, as well as Ross Partridge’s LAMB, picked up for distribution by The Orchard, a film she also co-produced. Last year she co-created the series “WEDLOCK” with Partridge and starred alongside Mark Duplass and Rob Corddry. She was one of the leads of The Duplass Brother’s THE DO-DECA PENTAHALON, and appeared in their films BADHEAD and JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME. She has also been seen in FX's “MARRIED,” Comedy Central's “REVIEW,” TNT's “MAJOR CRIMES,” Adult Swim's “NEWSREADERS” and “YOU’RE WHOLE,” and the films THE PRETTY ONE, MUTUAL FRIENDS, and Hannah Fidell's 6 YEARS. She will next be seen in Season 7 of “CHILDRENS HOSPITAL” on Adult Swim, Season 6 of “WORKAHOLICS,” and Amber Sealey's new film NO LIGHT AND NO LAND ANYWHERE.


Patrick Thomas Underwood

Director/ Writer/ Producer

After earning his A.B. from the University of Chicago with a degree in Cinema and Media Studies, Patrick moved to Venice, Italy, where eight years of operatic training culminated in an artistic residency with a teacher at the Teatro La Fenice. He then returned to the States to pursue a career in film, graduating with an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The writer and director of seven shorts, THE MIDDLE DISTANCE marks his feature debut.

Dean Israelite

Executive Producer

Dean was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He recently directed Paramount’s PROJECT ALMANAC, produced by Michael Bay. Dean received his MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute in 2008, where he wrote and directed the award-winning short film ACHOLILAND, set in the turmoil-filled heart of Uganda. The film was screened at numerous festivals, winning three Student Emmys as well as a BAFTA/LA award. He is currently in pre-production on his sophomore feature, POWER RANGERS, slated for release by Lionsgate in 2016.

Kevin Duggin


Kevin is a graduate of both the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography and the American Film Institute, where he earned his MFA in Cinematography in 2008. Kevin has shot for Fox, Disney, Paramount, MTV, Fuse, and Germany’s SAT 1, among many other outlets, quickly building a catalogue of over one hundred commercials, shorts and music videos. He has also served as Director of Photography on the feature films CONVERGENCE and REMOVAL, which premiered at AFI Fest in 2010.

Martin Bernfeld


Martin graduated from the American Film Institute in 2008, earning an MFA in Film Editing. He has served as Assistant Editor to Michael Kahn on TIN TIN and WARHORSE, both directed by Steven Spielberg. He has also edited eight feature films, the most recent of which is Paramount Pictures' PROJECT ALMANAC, produced by Michael Bay.

Kevin McGrail

Unit Production Manager

Kevin started his first company, Dynamite Film Productions, while an still undergraduate at Michigan State University before graduating in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering. He then earned a Masters in Digital Cinema Production from DePaul University. He has acted as line producer and UPM on several productions across the Midwest, including John D. Hancock’s SWAN SONG and Bravo Network’s “100 DAYS OF SUMMER.” In 2014, Kevin became a member of the Directors Guild of America as a Unit Production Manager.


Officialselection 1

World Premiere

Chicago International Film Festival
Official Selection - New Directors Competition
Friday October 23rd @ 6:00pm
Saturday October 24th @ 12:30pm
Monday October 26th @ 2:30pm

*All screenings at AMC River East 21



Patrick Thomas Underwood