Archives / 1996 Sundance Film Festival

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Director: Todd Solondz

Screenwriters: Todd Solondz

Description

Dawn Wiener is a middle child in middle school in the middle of New Jersey. She is is known to her friends as “wiener dog” but then again, she really doesn’t have any friends. It is just a nickname she endures, and enduring is what she does most the time in this, her first year of junior high. She is in limbo—that place between childhood and adulthood known as puberty.

Welcome to the Dollhouse is a stark suburban comedy that takes you back to a time when your life didn’t make sense (not that it ever does), but this is that awful time when you still believed it should. Todd Solondz has created a neoclassic protagonist, an eleven-year-old girl who fits in neither at home nor at school. She’s the type you hoped would not sit next to you in the lunchroom. She breaks your heart as she scrutinizes the world through thick, not-so-rose-colored glasses. She is not a character in a TV sitcom where everything comes out all right in the end or who takes off her glasses and is suddenly beautiful. Dawn Wiener’s problems are real.

Solondz is a master at creating a world that is slightly askew though totally familiar. The art direction and costumes alone will send you reeling into your own memories. He walks the delicate line between style and reality. Welcome to the Dollhouse is neither sentimental nor condescending and because of that, Dawn’s journey remains poignant. So then how can her plight be funny? Those of us who were more of a “wiener dog” than a football captain or head cheerleader will understand the pain, but hopefully enough time has passed so we can laugh as well.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

  • Section: Dramatic Competition
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Language: English
  • Run Time: 87 min.

Sundance Film Festival Awards

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email archives@sundance.org