Anthony, Jean and William Turner are living the American dream. Alex, Lisa, and Alice Turner are working hard just to get bye. Animosity triggers a plot which tests familiar bonds with potentially tragic consequences.
The Turner Exhibit is the story two sides of the Turner family, one successful and the other struggling. The eventual tension created by this social inequity leads to jealousy, deception, revenge and betrayal.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the precise origin of The Turner Exhibit, but if forced to speculate my best guess would involve a conversation with a close friend of mine. It had been 5 years since I had tried to make a movie. I had been teaching in the interim waiting for both my finances and creative spirit to recover from my previous attempt at Producing and Directing.
Creatively speaking, I was playing with a variety of concepts and even started writing a few drafts, but nothing came together. That was when a friend of mine told me about an avant-garde movie that she had seen on the West Coast.
What little notoriety the movie had came from its odd subject matter and explicit sex scenes involving people with very unconventional physical appearances. Having read a few negative reviews of the film, I expected my friend to have an apathetic view of the picture. To my surprise, she had found the experience of seeing the movie on the big screen to be truly engaging. “I was curious about the things happening on screen and watching them in a dark room full of strangers with no one judging me was worth it.”
Eureka, this is the type of feeling that I was after…sort of. I was not interested in shocks or exploitation perse. My interest was in portraying the psychosomatically taboo as opposed to the culturally taboo, to capture a type of uncomfortable emotional anguish that audiences are often spared from in favor of a traditional melodramatic pathos which is easier to digest and let go of when the credits roll. It is my belief that all conflict is personal and originates not so much from lack of resources or mutual objectives, but from deep-seated personal insecurities that most never acknowledge within themselves.
My next movie was going to be a Thriller whose revelations were centered around why rather than what. A movie where audiences could sit in dark rooms and watch characters during their most somber moments. A story about private anonymous occasions where baseless opinions are formed and acted upon. Decisions made in fear supported by pride and shame resulting in paranoia and conspiracies of the mundane.
The anger, fear and contempt depicted in The Turner Exhibit can be seen everywhere from social media to neighborhood dinners. Most blame cultural institutions and rogue figures for leading the disenfranchised down paths of hate and personal destruction. It is my contention that the disenfranchised seek out rouge figures and infiltrate cultural institutions leading society down those same paths. I hope that The Turner Exhibit is kind of movie that allows audiences to stare judgement-free at vulnerable characters, patronized past the point of exhaustion, succumbing to their worst impulses, causing the same audiences to think about their perspectives regarding themselves and the impulses of those around them.
Mathew Gregory Bainbridge
Writer, Director of The Turner Exhibit