It's been almost two years since audiences first caught a glimpse of "Girlfriend," at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film, written and directed by Wayland native Justin Lerner and filmed largely in his hometown, has spent the past two years making the festival circuit and enjoying screenings in various theaters and at college campuses around the country.
Throughout that time, "Girlfriend" garnered plenty of critical and public praise for the story, the director and the cast, which includes one of Lerner's classmates, Evan Sneider.
"Having 'Girlfriend' be available on DVD, VOD, Netflix, and iTunes with such a classy art-house distributor [Strand Releasing] is a huge win for the entire team who have worked so hard on this film," Lerner said via email. "Ultimately, I just want everyone from Wayland to be able to see our town in a feature film, as well as Evan's beautiful performance. I mean, a filmmaker is always happy when the possible audience for his/her work increases exponentially."
"Girlfriend," is about Evan, a young man with Down syndrome who romantically pursues a down-on-her-luck single mother, Candy, played by Shannon Woodward of TV’s "Raising Hope." The film fulfilled a goal of its writer and director.
“I’ve always wanted to make a film about [Sneider],” , explaining that he and Sneider were friends in high school and have remained in contact since graduating. “I really have a goal of telling unconventional love stories and stories that are morally perplexing. I like pushing the envelope on taboos a little bit. And I also thought I could make a film like 'Girlfriend' in Wayland. So I wrote a film that could be filmed with specific locations in mind.”
Though "Girlfriend" has earned plenty of accolades -- Audience Awards at Gotham Independent Film Awards, Woods Hole Film Festival and Mill Valley Film Festival, for instance -- Lerner said he doesn't make films for the awards, though they are a nice encouragement.
“As an independent filmmaker, the biggest goal is to get a film out to as many people as possible, not only for my career, but because you worked so hard on this project," Lerner said.
With that in mind, Lerner said that he is honored that "Girlfriend" is being released on DVD and will be available to watch in homes.
Lerner said he hopes those who missed "Girlfriend" during its limited run at the in Brookline last fall will now have a chance to see his work.