My First Mister

Director: Christine Lahti
Screenwriters: Jill Franklin

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


My First Mister is a beautifully rendered debut film about a special first love that both departs from and fulfills expectations and creates satisfying feelings about family, friendship, and other f words. It is a triumph for its director, Christine Lahti, who already has a directorial Oscar for her 1995 short film, Lieberman in Love, and who here displays such an abundance of talent and storytelling gifts that one wonders why it has taken this long for her to return to directing films.

My First Mister is a wonderfully engaging story about an odd couple. Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski) is an angry and depressed 17-year-old teenager who finds a job as a clerk at an upscale clothing store despite the serious misgivings of her middle-aged and tight-assed boss, Randall (Albert Brooks). Jennifer is pierced and clad in black; Randall wears his sweaters buttoned and takes his lunch with a book. At the outset, they seem to share nothing but a rather curious interest in each other.

Consciously offbeat but sincere and real, My First Mister adroitly avoids the pitfalls of melodramatic wallowing. As Jennifer and Randall learn about each other and their feelings grow, the age difference and the vast cultural gulf between them fade in importance. And when Jennifer stumbles onto the secret to Randall's lonely existence, she takes on a quest that brings them even closer. A love story in the truest sense of the word, full of emotion, revelation, intimacy, and range, My First Mister is a delightfully rich and funny film that invigorates one's passion for film's distinctive power.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

  • Section: Premiere - Opening Night in Salt Lake City
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 105 min.
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