Off the Map

Director: Campbell Scott
Screenwriters: Joan Ackermann

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


In Bo's own words, "The summer my father was depressed, the face of our Lord Jesus Christ appeared on a tortilla at the Morning Glory Café." So begins this enchanting tale of a little girl growing up in the high desert of New Mexico, a world depicted with precision and magic by Campbell Scott in his newest feature, Off the Map.

As you may have guessed, Bo is the little girl, and her father is depressed, and it's unclear why. Her mother is the archetype of an earth mother, searching for treasure at the dump and taking care of her garden in her usual state: naked. Bo meanwhile writes to various snack-cake manufacturers describing the ailments their products have given her and requesting replacements. But the family grows its own food and catches game and has a stockpile of firewood that will last years. That sets the stage for the visit of the IRS man, sent to see why the family hasn't filed any income taxes. The subsequent transformation of the agent and the family recalls a time and place where simplicity ruled and art was king.

Lyrically rendered and perfectly cast (Joan Allen and Sam Elliott couldn't be better, and Valentina d'Angelis makes a great debut as Bo) with a sensitive and ethereal script by Joan Ackermann, Off the Map is a hauntingly heartfelt expression of life in a place where people are not bound by preconceived notions about the way they should live.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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