Karen Allen Spends ‘A Year By The Sea’ In New Cape Flick

Karen Allen in 'A Year By The Sea'

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Karen Allen was a college party girl in “Animal House” and Harrison Ford’s leading lady in two Indiana Jones flicks. Her latest film has less action, but the plot is just as bold: Allen plays a middle-aged woman who abandons her husband and runs away to Cape Cod.

Allen stars in “A Year By The Sea,” the movie version of Harwichport writer Joan Anderson’s 2011 memoir that debuted over the weekend at the Vail Film Festival in Colorado, where it won the Audience Award and Allen picked up the Vanguard Award for her performance and her body of work.

“The book was so fascinating to me,” Allen said. “It was an amazing story and it was great to see it all come to life.”

Allen and the rest of the cast: “Law & Order’s” S. Epatha Merkerson, “Mr. Robot’s” Michael Cristofer, Yannick Bisson of the Canadian series “Murdoch Mysteries,” “Bridget Jones’” Celia Imrie and director/writer/composer Alexander Janko shot the film over 22 days last April and May in Orleans, Chatham, Wellfleet and Eastham.

“They found the most exquisite locations to film,” Allen said. “It’s quite a beautiful place.”

Karen Allen and Yannick Bisson in A Year By The Sea

Karen Allen and Yannick Bisson in A Year By The Sea

Exploring The Cape

A Berkshires resident, Allen said she hadn’t spent much time on the Cape before the shoot. But like a typical first-time visitor she soaked up all the local color, even while working 14-hour days.

“We shot a scene where Epatha and I went jogging through downtown Wellfleet wearing these wild outfits,” she said. “We went to the top of Nauset Lighthouse and to that incredible beach in Wellfleet. My son and his girlfriend came for a weekend and we went and had lobster and just kind of hung out.”

Allen, 64, said she immediately identified with Anderson who moved to the Cape instead of following her husband to Kansas after he was transferred there for his job.

Karen Allen in A Year By The Sea

Karen Allen in A Year By The Sea

A Moving Story

“I found it a very moving story,” she said. “To be in a film about relationships that sustain, support and help you grow, and to explore a marriage that had sort of gone into a holding pattern, and what it takes try to find a way to revive it, I think all of that just fascinated me.”

Director Janko and writer Anderson said there was never any question but that the movie would be shot on Cape Cod – even though it would have been far less expensive to film it in Canada.

“Once I met Joan and got to actually see where she was on the Cape and all these beautiful locations, for me to make the film anywhere else made no sense,” Janko said. “I felt if we’re going to make this movie, we needed to make it right and make it real.”

Added Anderson: “We just said to Alex ‘It has to be shot on the Cape and the Cape becomes a character in the film.’

Karen Allen, right and S. Epatha Merkerson in 'A Year By The Sea.'

Karen Allen, right and S. Epatha Merkerson in ‘A Year By The Sea.’

Screening Benefits WE CAN

After Vail, the flick heads to the Newport, California film festival and Janko has submitted it to a number of others including Nantucket and Provincetown. But if you can’t wait to see it, Janko, Anderson and Allen will be back on the Cape May 19 to screen the film at the Cape Cinema and to raise some funds for WE CAN, a women’s empowerment organization that also appears in the film.

“I feel like we needed to give back,” said Anderson, who has been involved in WE CAN for years. Like Anderson’s Year By The Sea, the group “helps women become something new,” she said.


  1. Kathleen Arruda says

    Would like to buy DVD A Year Buy The Sea where can I buy this movie???

  2. I also would like to know if A Year by the Sea is out on DVD…would like to give it as a gift for Christmas…..a relative read the book and loved it…..she has all of Joan’s books….thanks if anyone knows when it or if it out yet…….it’s November 18, 2016 now.

  3. Where else can you view this, but in Wellfleet? I did. Now I’d like the DVD. When is it coming out?
    I have not been able to find this movie playing anywhere else.

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