In America

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Far from the classic vision of raggedy immigrant hordes arriving on the shores of Ellis Island, Jim Sheridan's thematically rich, emotionally textured semiautobiographical In America presents a hip, young Irish family driving over the Canadian border in a station wagon. For them, as for all newcomers, America is a land of barriers to be overcome.

For each member of the family, acclimating to the New World requires not only learning a new set of societal codes but also taking tough leaps of faith to let go of the past. Haunted by the death of a son, the Sullivans industriously set out to create a home in New York City, settling into a tenement populated by junkies, drag queens, and other colorful transplants. As Johnny struggles to break into the theater scene, and Sarah willfully weathers a difficult pregnancy, their plucky daughters penetrate the secret fortress of a mysterious neighbor, an act that opens the door to community and the trading of unimagined gifts.

Declan Quinn's breathtaking, lively photography navigates the intricate, multidimensional terrain of charged family dynamics, almost as if the camera were another character. Real-life sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger light up the screen with unmitigated honesty and sweetness, while heart-wrenching performances by Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, and Djimon Hounsou bring truth and subtlety to a profoundly resonant story.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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