“I had seen hundreds and hundreds of little girls and didn’t like them,” said the Carlisle filmmaker. “Not one of them fit the bill. Not one. I needed someone who looked half-Vietnamese, was at least 12 years old and had a lot of spunk to stand up to Danny Glover.”
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Director finds ‘Missing’ link with budding Amherst actress
By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - Updated: 12:19 AM EST
Two casting directors on either coast couldn’t find Gabrielle Savage Dockterman a little girl to co-star with Hollywood honcho Danny Glover in her first feature, “Missing in America.”
It wasn’t until three days before rehearsals began in Vancouver that Dockterman’s friend, Peter Berkrot, who teaches children’s theater on the North Shore, found Zoe Weizenbaum. Another friend of a friend had caught the Amherst gal in a local production of “Peter Pan” and thought perhaps she had the spunky stuff.
“Peter sent me a videotape, and at first I thought she was cute, but she had only done three community theater plays,” the director told the Track. “But I set up a video teleconference to save money and she auditioned to a monitor. Can you imagine? It was ridiculous.
“But once Zoe got to Vancouver and rehearsed with Danny she was incredible,” she said. “So natural with a lot of energy.”
Zoe, who has since landed a role as young Pumpkin in “Memoirs of a Geisha,” recently was awarded a “Best Actress” statue from the Monaco International Film Festival where Dockterman’s film about a loner Vietnam vet took the top prize. The little gal has also snagged acting kudos at flickfests in St. Louis and Northampton.
The indie, which also stars “Good Night, and Good Luck” actor David Strathairn, Linda Hamilton of “Terminator” fame and “Hellboy” Ron Perlman, won the hearts of the Euro-crowd.
“Missing in America” is the story of a Vietnam veteran (Glover) who has shut himself off from the world for more than 30 years while haunted by memories of men he lost in battle under his command. One day, a former member of his platoon, played by Strathairn, appears on his doorstep with his half-Vietnamese daughter then vanishes alone into the night.
“People abroad were intrigued by how middle Americans perceive war and how the veterans are treated at home,” the filmmaker told the Track.
The film, co-written by Vietnam vet Ken Miller, Dockterman and Nancy Babine, also of Carlisle, will be released Jan. 10 on DVD and VHS. Preorders are being taken on Amazon.com.