Everyone loves to rag on social media celebrities, but what about the people who see online fame as their only route to a better life? That’s the question at the heart of “Jawline,” the feature debut from filmmaker Liza Mandelup, who won a Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. A new trailer released today by Hulu, which will release the movie in theaters and online, offers a sense of Mandelup’s singular vision.
“Jawline” made its New York debut at the 2019 BAMcinemaFest, where the festival provided this synopsis: “16-year-old Austyn Tester has not had an easy life, growing up poor in an industrial Tennessee town, but what he does have—teen idol good looks, an outgoing personality, and an internet connection—are enough to make him an object of adoration for the thousands of teen girls who tune in to his social media livestreams. Determined to make something of his life, Austyn dreams of moving to LA and taking his stardom to the next level—but in a world where everyone wants to be insta-famous, what does it take to stand out? Unfolding in a millennial pink, vaporwave haze, Liza Mandelup’s disquieting documentary offers a sobering look at teen dreams and disillusionment in the age of the ‘social media gold rush.'”
Per the trailer, the film follows Austyn throughout his daily vlogging and the self-doubt that comes along with each broadcast. Mandelup spends time with his family, uncovering the rural Americans who coastal elites like to blame for Donald Trump’s presidency. She also heads to VidCon, a massive convention for YouTube stars, to document the massive fan culture surrounding social media stars.
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One intriguing character who features heavily in the trailer is a purpled-haired internet celebrity manager of sorts, who boldly proclaims: “Finding someone who looks cute on Instagram and gaining them a million followers is so easy to do. What happens when they’re thirty? Because when they’re not cute, it’s game over. There’s no longevity behind it.”
The film will be released as a Hulu Documentary both theatrically in the U.S. and on Hulu on Friday, August 23. Check out the trailer below.
And here is the official poster: