Director: Susan Skogg
Screenwriters: Susan Skogg

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Whatever begins with Susan Sontag’s quote, delivered to Yale graduates: “You may think you’ve just experienced the most important phase of your life, but you’re wrong. The most important experience of your life was high school.”

Writer/director Susan Skoog subscribes to this philosophy, investing her laceratingly true portrait of being on the verge of adulthood with unremitting commitment. It is the early 1980s—a last call for sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll (Iggy Pop, David Bowie, the Ramones, Blondie, and Patti Smith are among those on the sound track)—right before “Just Say No” and the realities of AIDS. The film’s focus stays clearly on Anna Stockard, sensitively rendered by Liza Weil, who embodies the inchoate state of wearing a tough veneer to cover not only her vulnerability but her dual aspirations: to be an artist, and to explore the burgeoning yearnings of her body. Her first sexual experience, consummated with a pretentious would-be artist, painfully reflects the loveless and unsatisfying nature of such encounters. One of the film’s most telling moments comes immediately after, when Anna opts to walk, rather than ride, her ever-present bike home. As she later confides to Brenda, her best friend, “It hurts”—and Weil makes it palpable.

Brenda (Chad Morgan), all flashy bravado and perfect makeup, temporarily brings Anna along on a trip to nowhere with two low-life ex-cons. But not for long. Eventually Anna’s back on her bike—heading, one hopes, for both freedom and discovery.

Susan Skoog, Director
A native of Red Bank, New
Jersey, Susan Skoog received a degree in theatre and film from NYU. For the past eight years, she has enjoyed a highly successful career as a TV writer, director, and producer. In 1995 Skoog was nominated for two CableACE awards for TNT’s “Inside the Academy Awards” and “Our Favorite Movies.” Her first narrative short film, A Dry Heat, was accepted at the Cannes Film Festival and also screened at numerous other festivals.

— Robert Hawk

Screening Details

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