The 34th Mill Valley Film Festival bestowed another of it's Spotlight Awards to rising starlet Elizabeth Olsen after a screening of her new movie Martha Marcy May Marlene at the Saturday night.
The Spotlight Award honors a filmmaker at a particular moment in time, and, as the festival's Director of Programming Zoe Elton said: "This particular moment [for Oslen] is looking pretty spectacular from where I'm sitting."
In the past year, the younger sister of twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen starred in three movies. Other than Martha Marcy Mary Marlene, she starred in the horror flick Silent House that was filmed in one continuous shot and and comedy/drama Peace, Love & Misunderstanding with Catherine Keener and Jane Fonda. And two more movies are currently in post-production, with one starring Robert de Niro and Sigourney Weaver.
In Martha Marcy May Marlene, Olsen gives a strong performance as a young woman who recently escaped the clutches of a dangerous cult and attempts to re-join normal life.
"The movie begins and ends in a transition for the character," Olsen said after the screening. "And in life we're always transitioning."
Co-star John Hawkes as well as Director Sean Durkin and Producer Josh Mond joined Olsen on stage for a Q&A session after the screening.
"I wasn't interested in a cult movie," Hawkes said, noting that the word "cult" is never uttered in the film. "It's a community. A misguided community perhaps."
Hawkes plays the manipulative leader of this "community," who ultimately abuses Martha as she assimilates into her new family.
Even Durkin and Mond didn't use the word "cult" until the movie was finished, they said. Durkin got the idea for the screenplay after hearing of a similar experience one of Mond's friends endured.
Olsen joined the crew two weeks after being cast. Between filming movies, the 22-year-old chisels away at her undergraduate degree at New York University.
"I've only won one other award and that was the Harvard Book Award in high school," she said when presented with the Spotlight Award.
"They only gave it to me because I didn't get the theater award," she laughed.