Local Filmmaker Explores Domestic Abuse Survivor Stories

Over a decade in the works. Incredible hardship. Monu​mental sacrifice. That’s what it took for Jeana Reilly to make her acclaimed 24-minute short film, DANNI. But to speak with the screenwriter and Yonkers resident, the journey has been worth the struggle.

With Reilly in the title role, DANNI is an exploration of relationship addiction and is based on Reilly’s experience as a survivor of domestic abuse. When she’d sought professional help, Reilly felt there was a piece of the puzzle missing and couldn’t understand her inability to break free from the connection that had caused her so much pain. “I can only associate it with an addiction as powerful and deadly as alcohol or drugs,” she says.

With this realization, she took her pain and turned it into art, initially intended for her alone. That changed in 2009, when Reilly lost both of her parents, and writing DANNI became more of a catharsis. In the midst of one of the darkest moments of her life, Reilly did what her father had always told her to do throughout her life and on his deathbed: “Take it to the stage,” which ultimately became the name of her film production company.

Twenty-four film-festival acceptances later, the film shot in Brewster has achieved international acclaim. Reilly attributes the feat to her amazing cast, crew, and director, Peter Jensen, whose agreement to direct DANNI “made me feel like I could fly.”

Reilly intends to make DANNI into a full-length feature, though she is currently in the midst of multiple new projects, including two more shorts: Millwood Drive and The Passion.

DANNI has a distribution deal with Hewes Pictures and was released theatrically in Chicago in August, with future sites to be announced. It is currently available for viewing on Amazon, Vimeo on Demand, and on DIRECTV’s ShortsTV Channel, which produces and distributes the annual theatrical releases for award-winning and -nominated short films.

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