“Once everyone learns everything about me, I gotta keep moving. Why do I do that?”
For the past two years, Audrey (Jena Malone) has lived in 4 different places and had 7 different jobs. She recently got fired from her collection agency gig, is overdue on rent and the electricity to her apartment has just been cut off. And to make matters worse, her father is ill and her mother refuses to speak to her. Audrey spends a lot of her time watching videos on YouTube and one night comes upon an ad for adult adoption in which seniors who either don’t have children of their own or want to have a younger adult in their lives will adopt through this service.
With no other prospects, Audrey gives this a shot. After many interview sessions she goes through a trial run with middle-aged couple Sunny (Emily Kuroda) and Otto (Robert Hunger-Buhler). Otto, a hard-nosed and strictly-by-the-book kind of guy, is reluctant at first but then warms up to Audrey. The two work on rebuilding his treehouse, with Otto giving Audrey guidance and Audrey relying on DIY YouTube videos to learn the skills to complete the task. As the they bond, Audrey finds herself in a tough situation and tries to decide how to move forward.
Directed by M. Cahill and based on a true story, Porcupine is a sweet film about the struggle to find one’s own place in the world. Audrey is a complex and nuanced character whose motivations are pure and not rooted in any selfishness or greed. Jena Malone is one of my favorite actresses and she shines in this role. Malone and Robert Hunger-Buhler play well off each other as the story’s two central characters. The film has a strong failure-to-launch theme, quirky characters and does a lot to explore complex family dynamics. Heartfelt, engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable.
Porcupine had its world premiere at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival.
Note to add: Porcupine is now titled Adopting Audrey. The film will be releasing in theaters and on digital and VOD on August 26th, 2022.
“Sometimes what a man wants to do and what he’s able to do are two different things.”
Lucas (Pedro Correa) was just hit with some devastating news. His dad Augusto (Ricardo Molina) is dead. Lucas has had a strained relationship with his father and its been 10 years since he’s seen him. So it came as a surprise when his dad left him a Los Angeles apartment building as an inheritance. Lucas leaves his mom and loser friends in Reno to make his way to LA. His plan is to quickly sell the joint, collect the money and go back to Reno. However, he finds himself more and more invested in the building and its tenants. Lucas gets tough love from the building’s supervisor Frank (Raymond Cruz) and has to be wary of his uncle (Steven Bauer) who is a little too eager to help Lucas sell the building. Lucas falls for Sophie (Courtney Dietz) who happens to be in a relationship with ne’er-do-well Gavin (Simon Rex). What Lucas didn’t expect was that in LA he’d find himself on a journey of discovery where he learns more about himself and his dead dad than he ever thought he would.
Co-written by Pedro Correa and Fabio Frey, My Dead Dad is a deeply empathetic coming-of-age story. We become invested in Lucas’ journey as he pieces together a new narrative about his dad. The film weaves in home video style footage of Lucas’ dad and an audio recording that really makes the “dead dad” a fully realized character. I enjoyed the fish-out-of-water theme as well as how the main character grows and evolves throughout the story. There is a motley crew of supporting characters, all quirky and interesting in their own way.
Throughout the film there are shots of LA, particularly tent cities, which offers a subtle nod to LA’s homeless situation. Correa is founder of Hollywood for Homeless, which according to Never Norm Films’ website their mission is to “collect excess wardrobe and snacks from film and TV sets, shop for bulk necessities, package them with care, and deliver them directly to those who need it in the streets of LA.”
“I hope it gives our audience a sense of catharsis, the way it did for us, and the courage to revisit memories they have buried away.”
Director Fabio Frey
My Dead Dad had its world premiere at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival. Visit the film’s official website for more information.
“If 21 million Americans are struggling with addiction, how many family members are struggling alongside them?”
Directed & Produced by Hallee Adelman & Sean King O’Grady, Our American Family is a brutally honest documentary that gives viewers an inside look into how addiction affects families.
Nicole is a drug addict who has been in an out of rehab over the years. In fact, she got pregnant in during one stint at rehab and is now leaning on her mother Linda to help her raise her daughter while she goes back for treatment for the tenth time. As the matriarch, Linda feels enormous pressure to not only help Nicole stay on track with her sobriety but also to raise her granddaughter and keep things together on the homefront. Her two grown sons are skeptical that Nicole will recover and are resentful about how much energy is diverted to dealing with their sister’s rollercoaster ride of addiction and sobriety. And to add to the familial strain, Nicole and Linda frequently find themselves butting heads.
Our American Family follows Nicole and her family as they navigate the ongoing repercussions of addiction. There are no interviews, just footage of the family living their day to day. The fly-on-the-wall perspective thrusts the audience right into the center of the evolving tension. This family could be any family in America dealing with the ongoing battle between addiction and recovery.
Our American Family will have its world premiere at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival. Visit the film’s official website for more information.
Women carry the burden of the many expectations society has for them. The biggest one: motherhood. If a woman in her childbearing years decides against having children, she’s considered selfish. In fact, if she makes any reproductive choices at all, including the use of contraceptives and birth control, voluntary hysterectomies or having an abortion, she will be criticized by someone who feels they have a say in the matter. Many women are seen as walking uteruses rather than individuals who have a lot to offer other than giving birth. And those who want children but can’t have them due to many factors, including infertility, socioeconomic inequality and forced sterilization, are often seen as some sort of failure because they couldn’t achieve the goal assigned to them by societal norms. Being childfree or childless can make women feel like outcasts. Or worse. Silenced.
Childfree — won’t have children
Childless — can’t have children
Written, directed and produced by Therese Shechter, My So-Called Selfish Life gives a voice to the women out there who live their lives without birthing children, whether it was their choice to do so or not. It’s a profoundly important documentary about a subject that is often swept under the rug. Any childfree or childless woman, including myself, who has endured awkward and hurtful conversations with people in their lives about their situation will feel not only validated but redeemed to hear so many women in similar situations. And for those who cast judgement on others about the idea of maternal regret, they may learn a thing or two about compassion.
The documentary includes interviews with a variety of experts including doctors, authors and activists. These are bolstered with historical context and pop culture references. Almost every possible approach was taken making this a very thorough exploration on the subject matter. With that said, I wish the film had explored how social media platforms, including TikTok, are being used to openly discuss childfree living but it unfortunately does not.
I can see this documentary doing well through word-of-mouth recommendations, with childfree and childless women sharing it with others to encourage discussion and understanding.
My So-Called Selfish Life premiered at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival. Learn more about the documentary on the official website.