Valerie Flake

Director: John Putch
Screenwriters: Robert Tilem

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


A film that discards all traditional mores on grieving, Valerie Flake boldly shows the transformation of a woman who is slowly beginning to let love back into her life after her husband’s death five years earlier. Director John Putch assembles a terrific cast to tell a story that breaks the rules and touches your heart.
Valerie Flake is an overqualified supermarket cashier in her early thirties with a graduate degree and a past as a talented painter. Since her husband’s death, she has successfully severed all bonds with the people who love her and replaced intimacy with a succession of one-night stands. After a fight with her sister, she drives to Palm Springs to attend a party for her late husband’s parents, whom she still holds dear. On her first night, she meets newly divorced Tim Darnell, who is a saint and the polar opposite of Valerie. They begin a fast and furious romance that fulfills a need each has but ultimately leaves Tim brokenhearted. Valerie reveals through a videotaped “confession” to her in-laws exactly why she has had trouble coping with her pain before she leaves it all behind in Palm Springs to start anew.
With the help of writer Robert Tilem, Susan Traylor gives an outstanding performance as Valerie Flake and compels the audience to care for her in spite of her distance. It is refreshing to see Valerie portrayed as a strong, humorous, and personable woman in the face of all her pain and insecurities.

John Putch, Director
John Putch began his professional career as an actor at the age of five in a summer theatre run by his father. He has had a respectable television and film career and now enjoys directing. His previous short subjects include Waiting to Act and The Walter Ego. His feature films include Alone in the Woods, Tycus, and Intrepid and the documentary This Is My Father. Valerie Flake reunites him with his producer/wife Julie Philips for their third film together.

— Mary Kerr

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]