Elika Portnoy’s AMERICAN DREAM Becomes Samuel Goldwyn Films’ OBSESSION

By Carol Patton

Over the summer Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired OBSESSION, a dramatic thriller directed by Goran Dukic and produced by Boston’s Elika Portnoy’s company Mutressa Movies. The movie hit the festival circuit under the title of AMERICAN DREAM, which really was a very tame title for this story which tangles and untangles two very different personas from backgrounds no one wants or understands. AMERICAN DREAM screened at the Boston International Film Festival in April.

This week OBSESSION (Goldwyn changed the name) gets a theatrical and VOD release. The film will debut in our area at Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond 10 on Friday, September 26th and will be available online as well.

Here’s a quick synopsis of OBSESSION: Before meeting George Good (Brad Dourif), Sonny Jordan (Mekhi Pfeiffer) was just a lost drifter with a troubled past floating from town to town, looking for work. As fate would have it, Sonny ends up saving George’s life from a murderous back-alley mugger. As thanks, George gives Sonny a home and a job as a mechanic on his farm in the lonely Louisiana Bayou. Sonny quickly settles in and makes himself useful around the place but then Sonny meets Larissa (Elika Portnoy), George’s alluring wife. She has a mysterious past and the two are irresistibly drawn to each other. The two begin a passionate affair leading them to construct a twisted plot to take George’s life in cold blood in order to be together. As their despicable plan unravels, they learn how far they are willing to go to cover their misdeed.

This story will thrill you and turn you around in your seat several times before an extraordinary unexpected ending is revealed. Be prepared to be entertained. OBSSESSION radiates with passion and physical sex so much so that the sex scenes between Elika Portnoy and Mekhi Pfeiffer were strategically choreographed. The script is electric and the actors hit their stride in the first moments of
the film.

Mutressa Movies is a production and finance company with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. Mutressa was founded by Elika Portnoy in 2008 to tell inspiring, thought provoking and entertaining stories, which she has been very successful in doing from her first film TRICKS OF A WOMAN (shot in Boston) until now.

If you wonder how this film project came to Elika, I can tell you. Producer Jeremy Wall of Polaris Pictures put the film together – he brought the writer, director and Elika together….Elika says, “he liked the idea of me being the Russian.” That would be the mysterious Larissa whose unseemly background would set her on a path to murder. Mutressa Movies funded the film. Elika would star as Larissa in the movie.

I reached out to Jeremy Wall about his cinematic matchmaking and here is what he said, “I can tell you that Elika is a fantastic producer – she gets it done and cares about the product. She is collaborative and team based and a pleasure to work with. I’d love to make more movies with her.

“She understands the work from behind the camera and in front. I was confident that bringing a quality director like Goran Dukic
to the table as well as the screenplay that all parties would be treated well and equitably. This played out. I could go on about Elika.

In OBSESSION, Elika had mixed feelings about portraying a murderer. She expressed that, “Honestly the hardest is to comprehend how
you could murder. “But,” she said, “we had an amazing acting coach that gave Larissa such a background story that I could understand why she wanted to murder…

“The actual murder” said Elika, “was the hardest scene. It took a whole day and after, I felt like I had been run over by a train.” Crime dramas can be difficult for actors if they are playing the murderer or perpetrator. And so it was for Elika, to say nothing about shooting in the Louisiana Bayou and being eaten alive while in scant clothing by mosquitos while the rest of the crew were covered head to toe including mosquito net face coverings. including mosquito net face coverings.

Mutressa has produced ten features including BEASTS OF NO NATION (directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah), LOVE IS STRANGE (directed by Ira Sachs and starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, and Marisa Tomei) and THE VOICES (directed by Marjane Satrapi and starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver). Her films have been in the official selection of Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Telluride, Toronto, Tribeca and have also received Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Actor, and Best
Supporting Actor for BEASTS OF NO NATION.

Alex Orlovsky joined Mutressa Movies as President of Production in January of 2018. The duo’s shared credits include BEASTS OF NO NATION, LOVE IS STRANGE, BLUE VALENTINE, and PLACE BEYOND THE PINES among others. Their next project Eliza Hittman’s NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS will be distributed by Focus Features. Elika is a learner at heart. She has a finance degree from George Mason University. Shestudied financial derivatives at Georgetown University, and international trade and policies at St. Peters College, Oxford University in England.

Her finance experience includes managing $220 million of private equity funds in Latin America and Europe for the International
Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in Washington DC. This included investments and structuring of new funds, restructuring problem funds and making co-investments alongside other investors. She organized IFC’s first private equity conference, which created a network of investors, entrepreneurs and fund managers. While at the IFC, she also separately started a
biotech company that she ran and sold within a year of its formation.

Since moving to Boston ten years ago she studied singing at Berkelee School of Music and studied modern ballet at the Boston Conservatory.

And I have to add, she is fluent in Bulgarian, English, German and Spanish and has a good command of Portuguese, Serbian, Russian, Italian and Greek. And a member of Mensa.With brains, beauty and talent Elika decided she wanted to learn filmmaking first hand.
“I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge by learning” says Elika, “And I have had an incredible learning curve with film production” instead of going the academic route as I did with my finance background, I wanted to learn film through hands on experience”.

Portnoy considers her first film, TRICKS OF A WOMAN as her best learning experience. “It cost me about the same as going to graduate school,” she says.

Born in Bulgaria, Elika Trifonova Portnoy was raised in the capital city Sofia. She is a member of the AFI National Council and
she is a member of the Board of Governors for Tufts Medical Center and the Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston. She lives in Boston with her husband and two children. For more information visit www.mutressamovies.com.

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