- 1999 Sundance Film Festival
With his delicate eye for detail and keen observance of humankind’s complex needs and frailties, Eric Mendelsohn has created a first feature of remarkable substance and beauty. Humorous, melancholy, and alive with wonder and whimsy, Judy Berlin unspools the story of one woman whose idealism is at odds with a community engulfed by stasis, alienation, and nostalgia for unfulfilled potential.
In the small suburban town of Babylon, lonely housewives, frustrated schoolteachers, aspiring actresses, and introverted failures witness the last leaves of fall give way to the barren chill of winter. With his ambitions recently squashed, David Gold has returned home from California to live with his parents. On the day of a solar eclipse, David finally ventures out of the house and runs into Judy Berlin, a former classmate who is on her way to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a star. Struck by Judy’s admission of a high school crush, David follows her to her day job at History Village, where they pass the day together reminiscing about their childhood. In the surreal twilight of the eclipse, David, Judy, and the other inhabitants of Babylon become “space explorers,” wandering the streets in search of comfort and companionship.
Underscored by stark black-and-white photography and a deeply sonorous score, Judy Berlin transforms the familiar terrain of suburbia into a strange, lonely, and desperate planet. Dazzling us with his original characterizations, eccentric wit, and rich metaphoric layerings, Mendelsohn deserves to be heralded as a bright new light in independent cinema.
Eric Mendelsohn, Director
Eric Mendelsohn studied fine arts at the State University of New York at Purchase. His short film, Through an Open Window, premiered at Sundance and later played as an offical selection of the Cannes Film Festival. Judy Berlin is his first feature film.
— Rebecca Yeldham
Sundance Film Festival Awards