My American Cousin

Director: Sandy Wilson
Screenwriters: Sandy Wilson

Institute History

  • 1987 Sundance Film Festival


The story of My American Cousin is closely related to Sandy Wilson’s own childhood on Paradise Ranch, an idyllic area of rolling orchards and grazing lands set on the shores of British Columbia’s Lake Okanagan.

It’s the summer of 1959, when rock’n’roll reigned supreme, the girls wore bobby socks and the guys all used Brylcreem. A precocious 12-year-old finds herself wishing she was 16 and then, one hot summer night, after writing in her diary that “nothing ever happens hers,”: a knock on the door opens her eyes to a new world. Into her Garden of Eden comes Butch, her rebellious and older American cousin who has run away from home driving flaming red Cadillac convertible. His arrival not only unsettles and disrupts the quiet life of the valley, but is also leaves a lasting impression on Sandy. Attracted and fascinated by her fearless cousin, Sandy finds herself stranded between her parent’s strict, conservative values and the seduction of Butch’s youthful freedom.

— Piers Handling

Screening Details

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