A trio of films by emerging female filmmakers have been sold at Sundance.
Perhaps generating the most buzz among the three is Marielle Heller’s directorial debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel of the same name. It stars Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard, Christopher Meloni, and UK TV star Bel Powley. In an interview with Women and Hollywood, Heller described The Diary of a Teenage Girl as “a coming-of-age tale of a bright, curious fifteen-year-old girl [played by Powley] who is growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s and is sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend.” Reading Gloeckner’s graphic novel was a revelatory experience for Heller: “It was the most vulnerable, relatable version of a teenage girl I had ever come across,” she recalled, “and I realized how starved we are for such characters.” The film was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics.
Kim Farrant’s Strangerland has also found a home in Alchemy through a Park City deal. Taking place in the Australian outback, the thriller centers on the disappearance of a teenage girl and her brother — and the psychological toll suffered by their parents (Nicole Kidman and Ralph Fiennes) when they become the target of police suspicion. Farrant told Women and Hollywood in an interview that she wanted to “explore what behaviors we go into when life sideswipes us and we find ourselves completely up against it. Do we drink, take drugs, gamble, avoid, deny, blame others, become violent, act out sexually? And even more taboo than that,” she continued, “I wanted to explore how and when women act out sexually — something that often seems more acceptable in Western society for men to do rather than women.”
Dial a Prayer marks Maggie Kiley’s second time behind the director’s chair. To be released by Vertical Entertainment in late spring 2015, the drama, starring Brittany Snow, William H. Macy, Glenne Headly, Tom Lipinski, and Kate Flannery, will focus on a “disenchanted and troubled” woman (Snow) who “begrudgingly answers phones at a Prayer Call Center under the watchful direction of its religious leader Bill (Macy),” according to Deadline. “When her prayers start making a difference, one caller shows up convinced he’s been saved by her voice. With the discovery of her newfound gift, Cora struggles to reconcile her troubled past, and grapples with the faith that others have started to show in her.”