2008 Drama

The static living arrangement between three lonely souls living in a rural Mississippi Delta township is suddenly shaken up due to a tragic suicide in this intimate family drama from first-time writer/director Lance Hammer. Single mother Marley was barely getting by when her 12-year-old son James fell into a dangerous cycle of drugs and violence. Desperate to escape her current surroundings and save her son from becoming another statistic, Marley seeks safe harbor at a home on the property of Lawrence -- a man with whom she has been locked into a bitter feud ever since the birth of her son. Brought together by circumstance and left with little choice but to work through their hardships, Marley, James, and Lawrence do their best to move beyond the grief that has befallen them, and transform tragedy into the foundation for a new and hopeful future. more..

Director: Lance Hammer

Starring: Micheal J. Smith Sr., Jimmyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail, Jeremy Jordan


  • Ballast inexorably grows and deepens and gathers power and absorbs us. I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    29 November 2012

  • This is the most significant feature about poor black life since Charles Burnett's 1977 "Killer of Sheep."

    Wesley Morris - The Boston Globe

    29 November 2012

  • The final shot, of the three characters now united, may be the quietest affirmation of life I've ever seen in a movie, and one of the truest.

    Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

    29 November 2012

  • Shot with a sure hand and a cast of unknowns, the film doesn't so much tell a story as develop a tone and root around a place that, despite the intimate camerawork, remains shrouded in ambiguity.

    Manohla Dargis - The New York Times

    29 November 2012

  • A quintessentially American story that unmistakably echoes European art house cinema, combining the aesthetic purity of France's Robert Bresson with the social consciousness of Belgium's Dardenne brothers. It also is a powerful, character-driven melodrama that easily holds our attention from first to last.

    Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times

    29 November 2012


  • Lance Hammer

    Berlin International Film Festival (2008)

  • Lance Hammer

    Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (2008)

  • Most Promising Filmmaker

    Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (2008)

  • New Directors Competition

    Chicago International Film Festival (2008)

  • Lance Hammer

    Deauville Film Festival (2008)