Wrestling with Alligators

Director: Laurie Weltz
Screenwriters: Scott Kraft, Laurie Weltz

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


In Wrestling with Alligators, director Laurie Weltz has lovingly constructed a story around the intertwined lives of four women living in a boarding house in a sleepy seaside hamlet and the experiences that impact them right before America officially experiences the sixties. It is Indian summer of 1959, and America is on the verge of change. No one is feeling it more than Maddy, the youngest of the clan. She is trying to balance the shift in society against the changes in her teenage body. A tomboy mechanic, she is a runaway from the swamps of Florida, and fate has landed her on the doorstep of Lulu, a fading silent screen star who owns the rambling rooming house. Maddy doesn’t always understand the antics of her older “sisters,” Claire, the widowed French war bride, or Mary, who is deserting the nest to get married. Even though these women are not related by blood, Maddy’s longing for family keeps them together. And she is the catalyst that helps them face the world with determination and power.

Weltz and a fine cast collaborate to create this lush cinematic experience. There is something sublime about the period colors and locations, but just as you are lulled into nostalgic reminiscence, the film hits you with real dilemmas such as coping with an unwanted pregnancy, societal pressure, and the stifling fifties conservatism that ruled this “age of innocence.” Beautifully conceived and executed, Wrestling with Alligators is a refreshingly truthful depiction of human issues and a group of women forced into new ways of thinking not by fashion but for their own survival.

Laurie Weltz, Director
Laurie Weltz is a New York City native and lifelong resident. She has been producing, directing, writing, and editing films and videos for the last ten years. Her credits include writer/director/produer of At Five and Twenty-Five, and award-winning short film which aired on the USA Channel. Her editing work includes numerous documentaries and television series, most notably Shock Video on HBO, which was nominated for two CableACE Awards. Weltz holds a master’s degree in film from New York University.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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