- Rated: Unrated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 36 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: November 10, 2009
- Originally Released: 2008
- Label: Kino Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Note: Ballast Scene Development, a 37-minute making-of feature charting the evolution of several scenes through the improvisational conflict sessions and two-month rehearsal process that gave form to the final film
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- A New Essay by Film Critic Amy Taubin
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 2.35
- Dolby Digital 5.1 - English
- Subtitles - English, French, Spanish
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Box Office - 08/01/2008
4 stars out of 5 -- "Hammer's script is spare and pertinent, without a wasted syllable, giving his characters believable voices against the bleak and gray canvas of the Delta farmlands, stunningly photographed by Lol Crawley."
New York Times - 10/01/2008
"[An] austerely elegant, emotionally unadorned riff on life and death in the Mississippi Delta....It's a serious achievement and a welcome sign of an newly invigorated American independent cinema."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/10/2008
"BALLAST has images of pristine spareness that keep leaping forward....As the movie comes into focus, you feel the lives of the characters echoing backward through time." -- Grade: A-
Premiere - 10/03/2008
"In Lance Hammer's BALLAST, the director takes a page from the Terrence Malick playbook and constructs a poetic narrative out of bleak landscapes and majestic drama....The result is an exhilarating narrative."
Los Angeles Times - 11/07/2008
"BALLAST has the heft and substance its name implies....this austere, rigorous film has a sense of place, a feeling for reality so compelling it makes us feel like we're living it, not just watching on a screen."
Chicago Sun-Times - 11/05/2008
"The film has a bedrock reality that could not be fabricated. It was filmed on locations in the Mississippi Delta, and uses actors who had never acted before, but who never step wrong. Few professional actors could convince us so deeply."
Sight and Sound - 04/01/2011
"Hammer favours an air of mystery....A film whose craft and determined individuality achieve an intermittent bleak soulfulness..."
Total Film - 05/01/2011
4 stars out of 5 -- "Powerful, semi-improvised performances brings us closer to the isolated characters, who movingly earn themselves the possibility of redemption."
Winner of numerous prizes at prestigious film festivals all around the world, including Sundance, San Francisco, and Buenos Aires, BALLAST is a stunning, emotionally powerful feature-film debut from Lance Hammer, who wrote, directed, and edited the film and served as one of the producers. After his brother commits suicide, Lawrence (Michael J. Smith Sr.) stops going to work at his convenience store, instead just sitting alone at home, staring straight ahead at the television, like a zombie. When his 12-year-old nephew, James (JimMyron Ross), pulls a gun on him and demands money, Lawrence barely reacts, not caring about anything. James needs the money to pay off the local drug dealers for the crack he has been smoking. Meanwhile, James's mother, Marlee (Tarra Riggs), is scrubbing toilets to earn whatever she can to afford food and clothing for her son. But when Marla finds out that her son's life is in danger, they run away to stay with Lawrence, triggering long-held memories and problems that slowly boil to the surface. BALLAST is set in the Mississippi Delta, shot on location with nonprofessional actors who live in the region. Although there was a script, the dialogue was mostly improvised, and Hammer uses only natural sound and light, heightening the reality of the hard lives these people lead. Director of photography Lol Crawley often creates beautiful exterior landscapes that offer hope for the main characters, juxtaposing them with interior shots that find them contained in small places, trapped in their situation. BALLAST is a bold, brutal work, filled with pain and honesty, violence and warmth, offering no easy answers.