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Sundance 2011: It Begins

Sundance 2011: It Begins (photo)

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Here’s the first Sundance line-up announcement, of the fiction and nonfiction feature competitions, both U.S. and world. A few things of interest, on first scan: Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut “Higher Ground,” in which she also stars; “The Ledge,” which sounds like this year’s try for “Buried”; Iñupiaq Arctic thriller “On the Ice”; “Terri,” the new film from “Momma’s Man” director; Michael Rapaport’s doc on A Tribe Called Quest “Beats, Rhymes and Life”; doc about the beloved Muppet “Being Elmo”; “If A Tree Falls,” a new film from “Street Fight”‘s Marshall Curry; Paddy Considine’s feature directorial debut “Tyrannosaur”; and “Vampire,” the new film from Japan’s Shunji Iwai, a favorite of mine.

Descriptions courtesy of the festival:


U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Another Earth (Director: Mike Cahill; Screenwriters: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling) – On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, a horrible tragedy irrevocably alters the lives of two strangers, who begin an unlikely love affair. Cast: William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Robin Lord Taylor, Flint Beverage.

Benavides Born (Director: Amy Wendel; Screenwriters: Daniel Meisel and Amy Wendel) – A high school senior in a forgotten town has earned admission to the University of Texas at Austin but can’t afford to go. Her one shot is a scholarship for winning the State Powerlifting Championship. Cast: Corina Calderon, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Joseph Julian Soria, Julia Vera, Julio César Cedillo.

Circumstance/U.S.A., Iran (Director and screenwriter: Maryam Keshavarz) – A wealthy Iranian family struggles to contain a teenager’s growing sexual rebellion and her brother’s dangerous obsession. Cast: Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa, Nasrin Pakkho.

Gun Hill Road (Director and screenwriter: Rashaad Ernesto Green) – After three years in prison, Enrique is back in his beloved Bronx, back in the arms of an estranged wife and back in the life of his teenage son, who is stumbling towards a transformation that will put the bonds of their embattled family to the test. Cast: Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, Harmony Santana, Vanessa Aspillaga.

HERE (Director: Braden King; Written By: Braden King and Dani Valent) – On assignment to create a new, more accurate satellite survey of Armenia, an American cartographer forms a powerful bond with an Armenian expatriate and art photographer. Cast: Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal with Narek Nersisyan, Yuri Kostanyan and Sofik Sarkisyan.

Higher Ground (Director: Vera Farmiga; Screenwriters: Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe) – A frustrated young mother turns to a fundamentalist community for answers, but after years of dogma and loss, she must find the courage to ask the questions that will help her reclaim her life. Cast: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, John Hawkes, Dagmara Dominczyk, Norbert Leo Butz.

Homework (Director and screenwriter: Gavin Wiesen) – Quirky, rebellious George has no ambitions other than to cut his next class. But one day, one girl gives him the perfect reason to figure out who he really is. Cast: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser with Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood.

The Ledge (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Chapman) – Perched on a ledge, a man says he must jump by noon, while a cop races against time to get to the bottom of it. Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard with Christopher Gorham.

Like Crazy (Director: Drake Doremus; Screenwriters: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones) – A young American guy and a young British girl meet in college and fall in love. Their love is tested when she is required to leave the country and they must face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston.

Little Birds (Director and screenwriter: Elgin James) – Amidst the stark landscape of the Salton Sea, two 15-year-old girls test the limits of their friendship when one follows the other to Los Angeles, only to discover that the boredom of home may be better than learning to survive in the big city. Cast: Juno Temple, Kay Panabaker, Leslie Mann, Kate Bosworth, Kyle Gallner.

The Loved Ones (Director and screenwriter: Sam Levinson) – A pair of reckless siblings are dragged into a chaotic family wedding by their overwrought mother. Cast: Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Jeffrey DeMunn, Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Director and screenwriter: Sean Durkin)- Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson.

On the Ice (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean) – On the snow-covered Arctic tundra, two teenagers try to get away with murder. Cast: Josiah Patkotak, Frank Qutuq Irelan, Teddy Kyle Smith, Adamina Kerr, Sierra Jade Sampson.

Pariah (Director and screenwriter: Dee Rees) – When forced to choose between losing her best friend or destroying her family, a Bronx teenager juggles conflicting identities and endures heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression. Cast: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, Aasha Davis.

Take Shelter (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) – A working-class husband and father questions whether his terrifying dreams of an apocalyptic storm signal something real to come or the onset of an inherited mental illness he’s feared his whole life. Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker.

Terri (Director: Azazel Jacobs; Screenwriters: Patrick Dewitt and Azazel Jacobs) – Orphaned to an uncle who is fading away, mercilessly teased by his peers and roundly ignored by his teachers, Terri is alienated and alone. When the dreaded vice-principal sees something of himself in Terri, they establish a friendship which opens Terri up to the possibility that life is not something to be endured, but something to be shared, and even enjoyed. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina.


U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Beats, Rhymes and Life (Director: Michael Rapaport) – The story of the rise and influence of one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the collective known as A Tribe Called Quest.

BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Director: Constance Marks) – The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash.

Buck (Director: Cindy Meehl) – In a story about the power of non-violence, master horse trainer Buck Brannaman uses principles of respect and trust to tame horses and inspire their human counterparts.

Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology (Director: Tiffany Shlain; Screenwriters: Tiffany Shlain, Ken Goldberg, Carlton Evans and Sawyer Steele) -Connected is an exhilarating stream-of-consciousness ride through the interconnectedness of humankind, nature, progress and morality at the dawn of the 21st century. For centuries we’ve been declaring independence. With insight, curiosity, and humor, the film explores whether it’s time to declare our interdependence.

Crime After Crime (Director: Yoav Potash) – Debbie Peagler is a survivor of brutal domestic violence incarcerated for her connection to the murder of her abuser. Two decades later a pair of rookie land-use attorneys cut their teeth on her case, attracting global attention to the troubled intersection of domestic violence and criminal justice.

Hot Coffee (Director: Susan Saladoff) – Following subjects whose lives have been devastated by an inability to access the courts, this film shows that many long-held beliefs about our civil justice system have been paid for by corporate America.

How to Die in Oregon (Director: Peter D. Richardson) – In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. How to Die in Oregon gently enters the lives of terminally ill Oregonians to illuminate the power of death with dignity.

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Director: Marshall Curry) – The Earth Liberation Front is a radical environmental group that the FBI calls America’s ‘number one domestic terrorist threat.’ Daniel McGowan, an ELF member, faces life in prison for two multi-million dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. But who is really to blame?

The Last Mountain (Director: Bill Haney; Screenwriters: Bill Haney and Peter Rhodes) – A coal mining corporation and a tiny community vie for the last great mountain in Appalachia in a battle for the future of energy that affects us all.

Miss Representation (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Screenwriters: Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Jessica Congdon) -Miss Representation uncovers how American mainstream media’s limited and disparaging portrayals of women contribute to the under-representation of women in power positions – creating another generation of women defined by youth, beauty and sexuality, and not by their capacity as leaders.

Page One: A year inside the New York Times (Director: Andrew Rossi; Screenwriters: Kate Novack and Andrew Rossi) – Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) – A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia’s horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director: Jon Foy) – An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America.

Sing Your Song (A film by Susanne Rostock) – Most people know the lasting legacy of Harry Belafonte, the entertainer; this film unearths his significant contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and to social justice globally.

Troubadours (Director: Morgan Neville) – A musical journey tracing the lives and careers of James Taylor and Carole King, pillars of the California singer/songwriter scene, which converged in and around LA’s Troubadour Club in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We Were Here (Director: David Weissman) – A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Abraxas / Japan (Director: Dai Sako; Screenwriters: Dai Sako and Naoki Kato) – After botching a speech on career guidance at a local high school, a depressed Zen monk with a heavy metal past realizes that only music can revive his spirit. Cast: Suneohair, Rie Tomosaka, Manami Honjou, Ryouta Murai, Kaoru Kobayashi. International Premiere

All Your Dead Ones (Todos Tus Muertos) / Colombia (Director Carlos Moreno; Screenwriters: Alonso Torres and Carlos Moreno) – One morning, a peasant wakes to find a pile of bodies in the middle of his crops. When he goes to the authorities, he quickly realizes that the dead ones are a problem nobody wants to deal with. Cast: Alvaro Rodríguez, Jorge Herrera, Martha Marquez, Harold Devasten, John Alex Castillo. World Premiere

The Cinema Hold Up (Asalto Al Cine) / Mexico (Director: Iria Gómez Concheiro; Screenwriters: Iria Gómez Concheiro and Juan Pablo Gómez) – Four childhood friends in Mexico’s Guerrero colony toy with the idea of robbing a cinema. Each hopes that the heist will hurtle them past life’s obstacles, only to realize that the caper risks the only thing they have: their friendship. Cast: Gabino Rodríguez, Juan Pablo de Santiago, Ángel Sosa, Paulina Avalos. World Premiere

A Few Days of Respite (Quelque Jours de Repit) / Algeria, France (Director and screenwriter: Amor Hakkar) – A pair of gay men who have escaped from Iran seek safe harbor in a small French village, where a lonely middle-aged woman offers aid. Cast: Marina Vlady, Samir Guesmi, Amor Hakkar. World Premiere

The Guard / Ireland (Director and screenwriter: John Michael McDonagh) – A small-town cop in Ireland has a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a fondness for prostitutes and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international drug-smuggling ring that has brought a straight-laced FBI agent to his door. However, a surreal chain of events pulls him into the action. Cast: Don Cheadle, Brendan Gleeson, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Fionnula Flanagan. World Premiere

Happy, Happy (Sykt Lykkelig) / Norway (Director: Anne Sewitsky; Screenwriter: Ragnhild Tronvoll) – A perfect housewife, who just happens to be sex-starved, struggles to keep her emotions in check when an attractive family moves in next door. Cast: Agnes Kittelsen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Maibritt Saerens, Joachim Rafaelsen. World Premiere

Kinyarwanda / Rwanda, USA (Director and screenwriter: Alrick Brown) – Based on accounts from survivors, Kinyarwanda tells the story of Rwandans who crossed the lines of hatred during the 1994 genocide, turning mosques into places of refuge for Muslims and Christians, Hutus and Tutsis. Cast: Edouard Bamporiki, Cassandra Freeman, Cleophas Kabasiita, Hadidja Zaninka, Kennedy Mazimpaka, Hassan Kabera. World Premiere

Lost Kisses (I baci mai dati) / Italy (Director: Roberta Torre; Screenwriters: Roberta Torre and Laura Nuccilli) – A 13-year-old girl in the deprived outskirts of a sprawling Sicilian city becomes a local celebrity to her needy community when word spreads that she just might be able to perform miracles. Cast:Donatella Finocchiaro, Pino Micol, Giuseppe Fiorello, Carla Marchese, Martina Galletta, Tony Palazzo. International Premiere

Mad Bastards / Australia (Director: Brendan Fletcher; Screenwriters: Brendan Fletcher in collaboration with Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait and John Watson) – In a frontier town of northern Australia’s Kimberley Region, an urban street warrior meets his match in a local cop. Performances and stories from real people in Kimberley are woven through the music of legendary Broome musicians, The Pigram Brothers. Cast: Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait, John Watson, Ngaire Pigram, Lucas Yeeda. International Premiere

Restoration (Boker Tov Adon Fidelman) / Israel (Director: Yossi Madmoni; Screenwriter: Erez Kav-El) – Aided by a young and mysterious apprentice, an antique furniture restorer struggles to keep his workshop alive, while his relationship with his own estranged son, who is trying to close down the shop, begins to disintegrate. Cast: Sasson Gabay, Henry David, Nevo Kimchi, Sarah Adler. World Premiere

The Salesman (Le Vendeur) / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Sébastien Pilote) – Car salesman Marcel Lévesque operates by the rules of a bygone era, turning on the charm to make his quota. But the increasing decline of his fading industrial town threatens to plummet this peddler of dreams into an unfriendly reality. Cast: Gilbert Sicotte, Nathalie Cavezzali. World Premiere

Ticket to Paradise (Boleto al Paraiso) / Cuba (Director: Gerardo Chijona Valdes; Screenwriters: Gerardo Chijona Valdes, Francisco Garcia Gonzalez and Maykel Rodriguez Ponjuan) – A teenage girl running away from her father’s sexual harassment meets a young rocker who has escaped to Havana with his misfit group of friends. Set in 1993, during a period of acute shortages in Cuba, the local AIDS hospice begins to look like an unlikely refuge to the hopeless teens. Cast: Miriel Cejas, Héctor Medina, Dunia Matos, Jorge Perugorria, Luis A. Garcia. World Premiere

Tyrannosaur / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Paddy Considine) – For Joseph, a man plagued by self-destructive violence and rage, a chance of redemption appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker with a devastating secret of her own.Cast: Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan, Olivia Colman. World Premiere

Vampire / Japan, Canada (Director and screenwriter: Iwai Shunji) – On the surface, Simon seems like a fairly normal, average young man, devoted to his teaching job and ailing mother. Secretly, he is compelled to hunt through online chat rooms and message boards, searching for the perfect girl who will ensure his own survival. Cast: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Aoi Yu and Adelaide Clemens. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

An African Election / Ghana, Switzerland, U.S.A. (Director: Jarreth Merz) – The 2008 presidential elections in Ghana, West Africa, serve as a backdrop for this feature documentary that looks behind the scenes at the complex, political machinery of a third-world democracy struggling to avoid civil war and establish stability for good. North American Premiere

The Bengali Detective / India, U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Phil Cox) – Chubby, dance-obsessed private-detective Rajesh Bharti and his motley band of helpers tackle poisonings, adultery and the occasional murder on the frenzied streets of Kolkata. World Premiere

The Blackpower Mixtape 1967-1975 / Sweden, U.S.A. (Director: Göran Olsson) – From 1967 to 1975, Swedish journalists chronicled the Black Power movement in America. Combining that 16mm footage, undiscovered until now, with contemporary audio interviews, this film illuminates the people and culture that fueled change and brings the movement to life anew. World Premiere

Family Portrait in Black and White / Canada, Ukraine (Director: Julia Ivanova) – In a small Ukrainian town, Olga Nenya, raises 16 black orphans amidst a population of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. Their stories expose the harsh realities of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe. World Premiere

The Flaw / United Kingdom (Director: David Sington) – Within a few months in 2008, several American financial institutions failed, and before you knew it the U.S.A. was in the red. An imaginative blend of archive, animation and personal stories delivers a devastating indictment of the unfettered capitalism which has led to crippling, catastrophic income inequality in the land of the free. North American Premiere

The Green Wave (Irans grüner Sommer) / Germany (Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi) – Animated blogs and tweets tell the story of democracy under fire and hopes dashed as protesters are arrested, tortured and raped during Iran’s tumultuous elections of June 2009.North American Premiere

Hell and Back Again / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Danfung Dennis) – Told through the eyes of one Marine from the start of his 2009 Aghanistan tour to his distressing return and rehabilitation in the U.S., we witness what modern “unconventional” warfare really means to the men who are fighting it. World Premiere

KNUCKLE / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Ian Palmer) – An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting, this film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans. World Premiere

Position Among the Stars (Stand Van De Sterren) / Netherlands (Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich) – The effects of globalization in Indonesia’s rapidly changing society ripple into the life of a poor Christian woman living in the slums of Jakarta with her Muslim sons and teenage granddaughter. International Premiere

Project Nim / United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh) – From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who was taught to communicate with language as he was raised and nurtured like a human child. World Premiere

Senna / United Kingdom (Director: Asif Kapadia; Screenwriter: Manish Pandey) – The story of the legendary racing driver and Brazilian hero Ayrton Senna takes us on the ultimate journey of what it means to become the greatest when faced with the constant possibility of death. North American Premiere

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure / Australia, U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Bate) – When two friends tape-recorded the fights of their violently noisy neighbors, they accidentally created one of the world’s first ‘viral’ pop-culture sensations. World Premiere

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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