Director: Shane Carruth
Screenwriters: Shane Carruth

Institute History


Someone once said that independent film resists categorization because … it's independent, and this is nowhere as evident as with this year's Dramatic Competition feature Primer. As dense as it is dramatically tense, overflowing with nonstop dialogue yet intermittently incomprehensible, Primer is a film which, in the words of its creator, Shane Carruth, was "shot for about the price of a used car." The result is a truly unique and stimulating vision.

Primer's narrative is impossible to summarize, but the story begins with four men in a suburban garage who are building highly technical devices. Partly by accident and partly by design, they discover a mechanism whose power enables them to have almost anything they want. This is a revelation that could literally change their world.

Faintly reminiscent of both the thrills and obscure machinations of Pi, Primer takes you on a ride and remains engrossing even if you don't know what's happening. It forces its audience to crack the puzzle of its story line at the same time its characters do. Shot in a compelling visual language and impressively acted, Primer almost demands repeated viewings and is one of the few films that make revisiting it worthwhile.

(Archives note: see also Shane Carruth's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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