Posted April 29, 2019

Tastemaker Spotlight: Q&A with Marcia Kimpton, Director of “Bardo Blues”

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A filmmaker, producer and actress, Marcia Kimpton is a modern triple threat. Her dad, Bill Kimpton, started Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants nearly four decades ago and his family continues to have a shared passion for the arts. The premise for the indie drama, “Bardo Blues,” was born from Marcia’s personal family history and experiences. Her debut film found a transportive setting in Northern Thailand and built a story around a young man’s journey to find himself amidst tragedy.

bardo blues poster

Marcia Kimpton’s “Bardo Blues” delves into themes from her own family history.

Having already racked up awards at the Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival, Yes Canada FF and the LA Independent Film Festival, we sat down with Marcia to chat about what it’s like being a first-time female filmmaker and what “Bardo Blues” means to her.

Q: How did you get your start as a filmmaker?

A: I got started in movies because of my father’s love of film. After every holiday dinner, we would settle into the family TV room to watch something together. We went through all the best ’70s movies from “All the President’s Men,” “The Way We Were” or even outrageous comedies like “The Jerk” with Steve Martin—our all-time family favorite.

I was fascinated by storytelling at an early age and how a moving picture could affect the audience. Like my father, I struggled with dyslexia but I didn’t let it be a hurdle in any way. I knew I had to work in film because it communicated so deeply to me. All of dad’s children became artists and I think all of our various forms of art were very much influenced by this early visual medium.

marcia with bill

Marcia, pictured here at 23 with her father, will donate 10% of all proceeds from the film to help find a cure for mental illness.

Q: What’s your favorite career moment?

A: It happened in the last two weeks! Our trailer for “Bardo Blues” was in the Top 25 viewed trailer (and number three at one point) on iTunes. We were competing with some big blockbusters and superhero movies. It was pretty incredible given we’re a small independent film with no promotional budget.

Q: Do you have advice for other female creatives?

A: My advice to any woman, and especially female creatives, is to never give up. The odds of any woman making a film is only four percent and female directors are far and few between. I had to beat the odds to set a new pathway in directing, producing, writing and acting in my own film. I do have to thank my dad’s innovative thinking—he was a maverick to create Kimpton hotels back in the early ’80s when nothing like it existed. There wasn’t a boutique hotel industry in the U.S. at all! I find a lot of similarities with our shared tenacity and we both made it happen despite the odds.

drennon and bill kimpton

Named after her grandfather’s middle name, Marcia’s daughter Drennon sharing smiles with Bill Kimpton.

Q: What do you think your dad would’ve thought of the film?

A: I think he would’ve loved it. His favorite hobby outside of golf and skiing was watching movies. He also became a Buddhist later on in life thanks to the teachings of Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock in Marin. He was deeply spiritual through the end. This movie isn’t just about my brother and myself, it’s also about our spiritual journey. My dad also introduced me to yoga and meditation which profoundly changed my life and allowed me to find peace. The intention and purpose of the film is impacted by both my father and brother, who was the sole investor.

kimpton siblings

Marcia—pictured here with her brother Graham—notes that “Bardo Blues” is more than semi-autobiographical, it’s about a spiritual journey too.

Q: What do you want people to take away from “Bardo Blues”?

A: We all have a choice in picking heaven or hell on a daily basis. Even though I was lucky to grow up as Bill Kimpton’s daughter, my siblings and I still went through many personal challenges from depression to mental illness in the family. My mission is modeled after my dad’s non-profit, Mental Insight Foundation, so 10% of all proceeds from the film will go to One Mind to help find a cure for mental illness.

What I really want is peace in this world and if people watching this thriller mystery makes one question their choices and evaluate their daily outlook, the movie will be a success in my book.

planting trees

Marcia planting cypress trees with her father and brother, Graham Kimpton.

“Bardo Blues” is out in select theaters and on iTunes. Kimpton hotels in five different cities will also be hosting free screenings of the movie. Marcia will be at each screening to talk about the semi-autobiographical story she wrote about her shared family history of depression and mental illness. Sign up to receive details on the screenings here and watch the trailer here.

bill kimpton on phone

In 1981, Bill Kimpton envisioned a new future for the hospitality industry and pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the U.S.

Kimpton screening schedule:

—Faith Yi

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