Director: Adrienne Shelly
Screenwriters: Adrienne Shelly

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Stories about poor women struggling to survive often make use of a rugged vérité aesthetic, but director Adrienne Shelly boldly defies convention with her radiant and gorgeously stylized feature film, Waitress.

Jenna (Keri Russell) is a poor southern woman stuck in a bad marriage to her jealous jerk of a husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto). Jenna works at Joe's Pie Diner, where every day she creates amazing pies that she titles after whatever's going on in her life. One day, she discovers she is pregnant and makes "I Don't Want Earl's Baby" pie. Jenna dreams of running away, but she is trapped inside her miserable life by poverty and her inability to access her own personal strength. Then she meets Dr. Pomatter, the handsome new gynecologist in town. When a friend encourages her to write a letter to her unwanted baby, an unexpected love story develops that changes Jenna's life.

Russell delivers a wonderful, complex performance as Jenna, a repressed woman reaching for happiness, while Shelly infuses the film with a luminous magical sensibility and an endearing sense of humor. Confident and clear in vision, Waitress makes delicious upside-down cake of the Cinderella myth.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]