Steel City

Director: Brian Jun
Screenwriters: Brian Jun

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Films about complex relationships among men are few and far between; even rarer are films about complex relationships among working-class men. Steel City tells the psychologically rich story of a dysfunctional family of men in a depressed midwestern steel town who have been torn apart by years of mistrust, anger, and irresponsibility. In the wake of his father's incarceration for killing a woman, 20-something PJ Lee drifts aimlessly, losing one job, then another, scuffling with his tough, philandering brother, and halfheartedly pursuing a girl from work. Evicted from his house, he accepts an offer to live with his estranged, bossy uncle, Vic. But Vic demands a level of accountability and communication that overwhelms PJ, and, like all the men in his family, he bolts. Just when things seem as intractable as the Illinois winter ice, subtle shifts allow each member of the Lee clan to inch together into a new kind of maturity.

What makes Steel City extraordinary are its intelligence and penetrating honesty about human behavior. First-timer Brian Jun never confines his characters or story to neat little formulas; rather, he soulfully embraces the nuances and complications of family, love, and circumstance. Raw performances by a talented and focused cast; an authentic, textured sense of place; and crisp camerawork all make this an exquisite, emotionally satisfying debut.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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