Director: William Maher
Screenwriters: Zac Stanford

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Tara is a 12-year-old girl whose mother, Jolene, can’t seem to get her life together, let alone build a stable environment for her daughter. When her boyfriend is arrested for growing marijuana, Jolene takes off, and Tara is put in foster care. Jolene’s brother, James, isn’t much better off than Jolene, but he feels a responsibility toward Tara, and when he decides to break her out of her foster home, they set off on a journey with no set destination except to find a better life.

The road leads them to James and Jolene’s father’s farm and the violent childhood that James has never confronted. Tara learns of Jolene’s past and the reasons why she has lived such a scattered, scarred life, and James is forced to finally stand up to a cold, scary father while there is still a chance to save Tara from a gloomy future.

William Maher directs his first film with confidence and a keen understanding of the details that both complicate and strengthen familial bonds: the shared history that links a family even while tearing it apart. Through the accomplished performances of the cast, we watch the characters ultimately help one another to find something that eludes many broken families: hope.

— Matt Anderson

Screening Details

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