Friends in high places: Alison Swan and leading actress Debra Messing
Friends in high places: Alison Swan and leading actress Debra Messing
A new Christmas comedy feature film co-written by Bermudian documentary and filmmaker Alison Swan will open at the Liberty Theatre tonight.

Nothing Like The Holidays is the culmination of two years work with her husband and the film's producer, Robert Teitel. It will be shown on 1,600 screens across the U.S..

The all Latin cast includes Debra Messing, whose work includes the portrayal of Grace Adler in the U.S. series Will and Grace. She has been nominated for best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical in the Satellite Awards in her role in the film. Freddy Rodriguez, who played Betty's love interest Giovanni Rossi in ABC comedy drama Ugly Betty plays an ex-Iraq soldier returning home and well known actor John Leguizamo, who co-starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage (2002) also stars.

The comedy drama is about the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family who are coming together to celebrate Christmas and the safe home-coming of their youngest brother Jesse who had been in combat in Iraq. For Jesse returning home rekindles an old romance but she cannot forgive him for leaving her. The young sister is a struggling actress and the older brother has brought home a highflying executive wife much to the dismay of their mother Anna. In the course of a week tensions build, secrets are revealed and Anna drops a bombshell on her family. When they all learn that one of their own faces a real crisis it forces them to reevaluate the past and rethink the future.

Personal experience

Ms Swan, the daughter of Bermuda's former Premier Sir John Swan, said that while the film did not make any specific references to her family there were elements that mirrored the relationships she has with her relatives.

She explained: "I think it comes from the idea of when I return home to my family. We all play certain roles that have been established since childhood. In fact, sometimes we revert back to our twelve year old selves when we come home and it evokes in us all of our insecurities past and present and all of the tensions that linger under the surface that are easy to quell when we are away erupt to the surface. Every family has its schick and every family has its role to play in that dynamic."

Ms Swan began working on the film two years ago with her husband and a Mexican American writer he later hired Rick Najera.

Mr. Teitel had previously produced Soul Food which was a seminal mainstream film about the African American experience. Being half Puerto Rican he wanted to do something similar about the Puerto Rican Latin American experience.

He showed it to Ms. Swan who then completed the writing of the script while pregnant with her second child Sebastian. She sold her draft to Overture Films and had to juggle finishing the script while looking after her new born baby.

Confidence

"It was quite a feat juggling the two, but it gave me the confidence after that experience that I could do anything," said Ms. Swan.

"We held all the meetings in my house while I was nursing or the baby was asleep in my arms or on my lap with all the papers strewn everywhere. Crazy!" Ms. Swan, who currently lives in Los Angeles, previously wrote and directed Mixing Nia, an independent film in 1998. Over the past ten years she has been eking out a living as a writer getting paid to develop films for Fox and Showtime but, frustratingly for Ms Swan, up until now nothing has been made.

"Now my juices are flowing and I hope I continue to have more opportunities to work on such great projects as Nothing Like The Holidays," she said.

Ms. Swan returns to Bermuda for three months a year to share her knowledge and experience across the island.

She said: "My husband and I are very committed to Bermuda. He teaches a seminar at the Bermuda College in February. We want to share whatever resources and knowledge we have with those Bermudians who are interested in the film business. One day it would be great do something there."

For more information visit the official website: www.nothingliketheholidays.com