Jumpin at the Boneyard

Director: Jeff Stanzler
Screenwriters: Jeff Stanzler

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


Few New York films actually communicate the intensity and energy of the city. Jumpin at the Boneyard is one whose entire identity is defined by its locale. Set in the Bronx over the course of a single day, the film examines the relationship between two brothers, Manny and Dan, who haven’t seen each other for over three years. Manny is unemployed and vacillates between rage and depression, particularly over his divorce and separation from his child. Dan is deep in the throes of an addiction to crack. The story begins early one morning when Manny discovers Dan trying to rip off his apartment, which triggers in him a spontaneous eruption of rage and frustration toward his brother. Dan’s partner in crime/girlfriend, Jeanette, passively observes the beating, intervening only when it goes on past the point of justifiable punishment. Manny relents, and then seizes the opportunity to try and get his brother off the streets and into rehab, using every means at his disposal to bring his brother back into contact with the family. The love between the brothers, as portrayed by Tim Roth and Alexis Arquette in strong performances, is tough love but deeply rooted.

Stanzler has created an affecting, realistic study of drug involvement which, though dramatically powerful, steadfastly avoids the potential pitfalls of either glamorization or condemnation. The honesty with which it confronts Manny’s and Dan’s lives gives the film tremendous impact and authenticity. Ultimately the film recognizes the dilemmas that drive individuals to make choices, even bad ones, and the resulting implications for everyone affected by those decisions.With its portraits of the milieu of the city, of the neighborhoods (now changed) where the brothers grew up, and of the strife within the family, Jumpin at the Boneyard emerges as a riveting depiction of the lives of those our society often ignores.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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