Dead End Kids

Director: JoAnne Akalaitis
Screenwriters: JoAnne Akalaitis

Institute History

  • 1987 Sundance Film Festival


Obie Award-winning director JoAnne Akalaitis’ first feature film, Dead End Kids, is an unconventional, free-form narrative illuminating key moments in the history of nuclear power. Beginning with medieval alchemical obsession with transformation of matter, moving to the discovery of radiation in the 19th century, the Manhattan Project, the atomic bomb, Hiroshima and the Cold War, it tells a story of nuclear power evolving into a technology out of control.

Intercut with archival footage, recreated historical and fictional characters, song-and-dance numbers, and a seedy comic who plays with a dead chicken, Dead End Kids serves up the ever-gnawing presence of nuclear holocaust in a compelling, inventive and caustically witty way. The end result is a profound, funny and worrisome film. Definitely hot., Music by avante garde all-stars David Byrne and Philip Glass.

— Lawrence Smith

Screening Details

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