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OVID AND THE ART OF LOVE (credit: Glenna Lang)
OVID AND THE ART OF LOVE (credit: Glenna Lang)

Corbin Bleu of High School Musical fame stars in the indie drama Ovid and the Art of Love, based on the life of the famous Roman poet Ovid along with John Savage (“The Deer Hunter”), Tara Summers (“Boston Legal”) and Tamara Feldman (“Gossip Girl”). The classic story gets a modern twist from filmmaker Esmé von Hoffman in a mash-up world of contemporary Detroit. and ancient Rome. Ovid and the Art of Love which won the award for for Best Director for Esmé von Hoffman at Festival of Cinema NYC 2019 will be released on all major streaming and VOD platforms on May 19, 2020 via Level 33 Entertainment.

Set centuries apart but in the same place, Ovid and the Art of Love tells the story of the renowned Roman poet Ovid, whose comic verses and permissive lifestyle provoked the brutal Emperor Augustus’s ire. As Ovid and the emperor’s granddaughter – thrown together by fate – race to escape execution, Ovid’s story asks: In a world of unrest, is love the most radical act of all? Bringing together togas, high-tops, oration, poetry slams and hip-hop, this film tells a timely story about power, pleasure and politics. Strong women characters clamor for respect and a better place in society. All is set amongst the faded beauty of modern Detroit’s neoclassical architecture.

Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) masterfully transforms into the poet Ovid, whose work has been cherished for over 2,000 years, while John Savage (“The Deer Hunter”) gives an electrifying performance as Augustus, Ovid’s conflicted nemesis. Tara Summers (“Mercy Street,” “Boston Legal”) plays Julia, Augustus’s tough, rebellious daughter, and Tamara Feldman (“Gossip Girl,” “Hatchet”) is the emperor’s activist granddaughter. Also starring Joseph McKenna (“Shutter Island,” “12 Monkeys”) and Lailani Ledesma (Comedy Central’s “Detroiters”).

Ovid and the Art of Love was filmed entirely on location and in America’s now-challenged, former automobile-capital of Detroit – without the use of any sets – working with mainly local cast and crew (including cinematographer Geoff George), giving the film a unique visual look. The soundtrack features works of Detroit artists from the Motown era (including a track from Ronnie McNeir of The Four Tops) to contemporary Detroit electronica, acoustic, hip-hop and more. These artists – like Ovid many centuries before them – work every day to better their communities and bring them light and life. The production also collaborated with many local community groups and nonprofit organizations to support the distressed city in the making of the film.

“I have been captivated by the ancient Roman poet Ovid, for whom my film breathes life into his exciting and relevant story for the first time,” said director Esmé von Hoffman. “His narrative follows a young person who finds his artistic voice and the real meaning of love. Yet it is also an empowering tale of an average citizen who stands up to an intimidating, authoritarian and hypocritical leader when no one else dares to. I hope that viewing Ovid’s tale through this lively lens helps us reflect on what is happening in the world today and consider what we can do to affect positive change.”

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