The Talent Given Us

Director: Andrew Wagner
Screenwriters: Andrew Wagner

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Although the "road" movie has long been a staple of the independent film scene, you have yet to experience one with as much humor, insight, and sheer originality as The Talent Given Us.

Filmmaker Andrew Wagner has filled his film from the casting couch of his own life, the one in his very own living room. His dad plays Dad, mom plays Mom, and siblings and friends play themselves. Or do they? At first, Wagner's "family" looks like your average New York clan driving away from their Brooklyn home to the seashore. But soon the family unearths histories and deep-seated resentments, hijacking the van into a cross-country odyssey bound for California, the home of the family's distant filmmaker son.

At first glance, this may seem like a journey you would be unwilling to make. But in the hands of Wagner and his amazing reconstruction, we immediately hold tight for a bumpy journey. It soon becomes clear his motivation for making the film is not just because he can get his actors for cheap. Wagner is playing with archetypes, pushing limits, and nudging his everyday folks into complex characters to better exploit human foibles and family dysfunction. The camera lurks brutally close to the story, and raw emotion is allowed to flow freely. The Talent Given Us is a wonderfully unique experiment that shifts gears from making you laugh out loud to having you squirm in your seat from its pure uninhibited honesty.

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

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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