Institute History


Confining, institutional settings have often inspired great creative minds (think Genet; think Kafka) to their greatest work. Proving yet again that creativity sometimes soars in deadening, sterile spaces, Josh Kornbluth turns in an eminently fetching comedy in this hilarious, contemporary gem of a feature. Painting an astute portrait of the bottom-dwellers of corporate culture, Kornbluth creates a world of spiritual dead ends that many working-class Americans experience, though few may ever tell their stories with such precision.

An aspiring novelist, Josh (portrayed by Kornbluth himself), supports himself through temporary work. As a "temp," Josh thrives in an undemanding world of deathly-still hallways and rote tasks, but when it's decided at one firm that he's good enough to "go perm," an existential crisis sets in, nearly paralyzing Josh in its grip. The drama centers around a menacing and critically important stack of letters that Josh forgets to mail day after day. As the enormity of his crime compounds, Josh becomes torn between creating elaborate psychological escapes or equally outrageous alibis. Ultimately, he must question whether he has what it takes to survive the stresses of long-term employment, while furtively working to further his creative goals. His contortions are both agonizing and hilarious.

Taking a lesson from the capitalist drones he so gently harpoons, Kornbluth gathers the most meager dramatic elements—the horrors of making copies, faxing and mailing—and reaps terrific profits from them, adroitly illustrating their enormous implications to a working-class life. Poignant, but brimming with hope (in addition to an exquisitely subtle irony), Haiku Tunnel is an insightful portrait of the inner cost of just getting by.

— Shannon Kelly

Screening Details

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