The Roommate

Director: Nell Cox
Screenwriters: Neal Miller, John Updike

Institute History

  • 1985 Sundance Film Festival


The Roommate focuses on two unlikely roommates brought together to attend Northwestern University in 1952. Orson Ziegler is the star of his small North Dakota town. Conservative church-goer, valedictorian, president of his class, captain of the basketball and baseball teams, he is bound for glory. When Orson arrives at college every step of his life is planned: he has selected his future wife, the medical school he’ll attend and where he’ll practice medicine. What he doesn’t plan on is a roommate like Henry “Hub Palamountain. Hubb’s unconventional habits and attitudes challenge everything Orson believes in. Hub would rather practice yoga and study the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi than study for his science exams (knowledge, he insists, will be obsolete by the time he graduates). The conflicts between these two polar opposites become humorously explosive, creating a semester neither one of them will ever forget. The real question is: will this “freshman odd-couple” survive without resorting to physical violence?

The Roommate is a hilarious and intelligent comedy that makes its point without beating you over the head. It is a straight ahead story, well paced, superbly acted, with touching and often very funny results.

Screening Details


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 [email protected]