Days of Grace

Institute History

  • 1994 June Screenwriters Lab


Somewhere in the city a farmhouse still stands. An ancient wood-frame on a tiny lot almost completely hidden by pines. A limousine pulls up to the broken fence and billionaire developer Edwin Suite emerges. The farmhouse is on his wish list. Shouldn't take long to wrap up a sweet deal. Just an old man to persuade. But this old man lives in a secret past so precious that he won't sell the house for love or money. What importance can this moldy old shack possibly have? As Debussy's "La Filles aux Chevaux de Lin" plays on a phonograph, the old man begins a story that will change Suite's life.

In a clearing on a hill over ninety years ago two teenage brothers watched the farmhouse being built. Even at fifteen Alan fancied himself one of the great robber barons of his time. He was dashing and considered the world and everything in it his personal property. Michael was frail and bothered by horrible nightmares—attacked by wild animals and strange phantoms. One day, he got lost in the woods and suddenly found himself face to face with an Indian named Battle Tree who carried him off.

Battle Tree was haunted by a vision. The world was a wasteland and the Great Spirit had chosen him to teach a white man's child the ways of nature. And so a year passed and Battle Tree taught Michael all he knew—bravery, a sense of purpose and a profound connection to the land. Then Battle Tree left him on his own to find his destiny and Michael came out of the woods transformed. He was returned to his family by a wealthy landowner with a beautiful daughter. She was an enchanting womanchild named Katelin. Both brothers were smitten beyond all hope. To Alan she was beauty and a return to the status his family had lost. To Michael she was nature itself. They spent their summers together roaming the forests. But in the end, she saw no future in being a farmer's wife and although her love for Michael was profound, she married Alan. It wasn't long before she realized her mistake. Alan's will to shape and dominate everything in this world began to drive her insane. Her life was empty and unhappy. So Alan started construction on the tallest building in the world, which he named the "Katelin Building" to raise her spirits. In total confusion she fled to the countryside to be with Michael on New Year's Eve. It was outside the farmhouse on that night that Alan stood in the shadows, knee-deep in snow and watched his wife and brother make love. He went mad and climbed to the top of the Katelin Building and set it on fire. His wrath was unquenchable. He had Michael's beloved farm annexed by the township to be cleared of forest. But the doomed lovers remained to fight for the land. In the battle that followed she was murdered. Michael stormed Alan's factory with bow and arrows to kill his brother, but he hesitated—in that brief moment they were children again with Katelin, blowing the tops off dandelions and running for the sheer joy of it. The door was broken in and Michael was gunned down by a security guard.

Alan has come to the end of his story. He'd forsaken his wealth and lived in the farmhouse all these years out of remorse. The house had come to represent everything he'd destroyed. Everything Michael and Katelin loved. A way of life. A life of serenity and eloquence, of simplicity and grace . . .


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]