Morrisa Maltz makes her narrative feature directorial debut with The Unknown Country, a quiet road movie featuring Lily Gladstone as Tana, a woman traveling across the United States reuniting with family members and searching for a true sense of herself. It’s a stirring film driven by a general outline rather than a specific script that has plenty to say about America and the relationships people build with each other.
I had the chance to speak with Maltz about directing her first film, which premiered at SXSW in 2022, and the challenges and opportunities that presented. We also discussed Gladstone’s upcoming prominence in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and how Maltz believes that she should have been well-known all around the world for quite some time now.
You can watch the video above, and read below for an official summary and where to watch.
Reeling from a devastating loss, Tana (Lily Gladstone) is pulled back into the world by an unexpected invitation to her cousin’s wedding. She packs up her late grandmother’s Cadillac and hits the open road, driving from her home in Minnesota to South Dakota.
After reconnecting with her Oglala Lakota family, Tana sets off to retrace a surreal journey that her grandmother took decades ago, searching for the spot captured in an old family photograph. As she travels, Tana finds connection in the stories of everyday people who’ve settled down far off the main roads including Isaac (Raymond Lee), who provides a pivotal clue to understanding the lost location that could cultivate closure. A personal reverie summoned from a beguiling mix of fact and fiction, THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY is an arresting debut feature from Morrisa Maltz.
The Unknown Country opens July 28th at the Quad Cinema in New York City and The Nuart in Los Angeles.