Director: Rebecca Miller
Screenwriters: Rebecca Miller

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Like a good Flannery O’Connor short story, Angela is infused with bits of humor, wit, horror, and old-time religion. The title character is a ten-year-old who is convinced that she and her younger sister, Ellie, can save their manic-depressive mother’s soul if they just follow certain guidelines that God has given to Angela.

Angela’s family has moved to a rural town in upstate New York, essentially for the welfare of her mother, Mae. Angela’s father and Mae used to be in a band, but their careers were abandoned because of Mae’s instability. When Mae is up, all the world is fair, and the family kick up their heels and imagine all the good times ahead. But when she crashes and is taken away, Angela feels responsible, and her speech reflects her own encroaching emotional illness.

What makes this film so special is the immaculate reconstruction of the young girls’ relationship. Female viewers with memories of a sister will be alternately amused, heartened, and horrified by the behavior of these celluloid siblings. “Step on a crack, and you break your mother’s back” is taken six degrees further. Angela insists that Ellie participate in her initially innocent rituals, which become more frightening as the film progresses, especially when Angela becomes convinced that she is Charon on her mother’s ride to madness. Although Angela is perhaps the more gripping character, empathy lies with Ellie, an innocent and a survivor who loves and somehow understands her sister and desperately wants to help her. Angela is rife with symbols and spectacular images, a lyrical and ultimately very moving film

— Andrea Alsberg

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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