Ten-year old Jo spends her days along the Shenandoah River - fishing, scrapping for metal, surviving - with her best friend Selma. But, when her abusive junkie stepdad dies, Jo decides to dump the body, steal the car, and set off across the country (Selma in tow) in search of her real dad - the legendary Jonny Alvaraz, Last of the Southern Gentlemen and a once-popular folk singer now living in Los Angeles.
Her Name Was Jo asks the question, “What can you give when everything been taken from you?”
Shot in a Neo-realist style that’s scrappy yet whimsical - just like it’s eponymous character - this film is an examination of what hides beneath the dark side of Americana - the brutality and generational damage of inherited trauma lurking there. But it’s also a touching tribute and sentimental exploration of childhood innocence, and resilience in the face of that dark shadow.
By turns lyrical and brutal, plucky and poetic, this coming-of-age journey about a young girl longing for and seeking her father touches the orphaned heart in us all, and affirms the pursuit of hope in territory largely held by despair.
And. while this film may be the story of an orphan, it took a family to craft. Shot on location in 14 states over 18 days on a shoe-string budget, the story behind the story is almost as interesting as the movie itself. Director Joe Duca’s little sister and her best friend played the leads; he and his brothers played the bad guys, and the rest of the cast and crew were a motley arrangement of family, friends and a sampling of industry professionals. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, but in the end they all just contributed to and strengthened the final product - a story about family, by a family.