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Micro-Indie Myth of the American Sleepover Intros New Director, Actress

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 5, 2011 at 5:30AM

At last year's Cannes, I was completely engaged by rookie David Robert Mitchell’s micro-budget indie The Myth of the American Sleepover (Critics’ Week), which is a deceptively simple reworking of the American Graffiti trope: a bunch of high school kids at summer’s end seek connection.
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Thompson on Hollywood

At last year's Cannes, I was completely engaged by rookie David Robert Mitchell’s micro-budget indie The Myth of the American Sleepover (Critics’ Week), which is a deceptively simple reworking of the American Graffiti trope: a bunch of high school kids at summer’s end seek connection.

Shot on the Red digital camera in a Detroit suburb close to where the director grew up, the film lacks intellectual depth or rich dialogue, but Mitchell immerses you in the lives and slow minutia of these kids as they react to each other, looking, hoping, touching. Trained as an editor, Mitchell expertly manipulates the ebbs and flows of various groups of kids on bikes, in cars, moving, walking, boating. My favorite moment: a boy and a girl sit close on a bobbing float on a dark lake, feet dangling in the water, tingling with anticipation of a first kiss.

Thompson on Hollywood

The teens are well-played by an ensemble of local unknowns—breakout Claire Sloma (pictured) just moved to LA. Developed with producer Adele Romanski while Mitchell was studying film at Florida State, the film took seven years to reach the screen and won a special jury prize for best ensemble cast at SXSW 2010. IFC Selects will launch the film in New York July 22 and Los Angeles July 29.

During a Q & A in Cannes last year, Mitchell said he recognized the challenge of forging a career in the current indie marketplace and held out hope for finding a more mainstream future as a director: he wants to keep on working at whatever level he can manage. (He's credited as one of many editors of the 2010 Academy Awards show.) A bigger budget and more production time would help. This guy has chops.

[AP Photo of Claire Soma in Cannes 2010.]

This article is related to: Genres, Independents, Reviews, Summer Movies, Drama, IFC


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.