Living in Oblivion

Director: Tom DiCillo
Screenwriters: Tom DiCillo

Institute History


At last count, Living In Oblivion had two explosions, two nervous breakdowns, one upset stomach, two seductions, eight dreams, one broken heart, one fistfight, and four goatees. What else would you expect from an average day on the set of a low-budget film?

Tom DiCillo proves himself a master storyteller with this hilarious behind-the-scenes (and in-front-of-the-camera) nightmarish adventure into independent filmmaking. Aptly titled after its film within a film, Living in Oblivion teeters somewhere between Kafka and the Marx Brothers. Returning to Sundance after his 1993 success, Johnny Suede, Dicillo knows what he’s talking about. From the opening shot of the lost camera truck in the predawn chaos, you know you are light-years away from big-budget Hollywood. As Nick the director, Steve Buscemi has a completely malleable face that clicks through emotions like nobody’s business. On the set he struggles mightily to maintain his integrity and sanity against everything that can go wrong and usually does. He is aided by his faithful crew, a ragtag collection of dreamers and wanna-bes. Rounding out the cast is the cast itself, including the beautiful and neurotic leading lady, and what set would be complete without a Chad Palomino (the name says it all), the leading man, a star in his own mind?

Living in Oblivion may support the theory that what goes on behind the camera is more interesting than what goes on in front of it, but beware: this is not just a film for cinema buffs. Even if you have never been on a film set, you will find plenty to sink your teeth into as it lampoons egos, eccentricities, flaws, and relationships. Each character is created with style and craft. DiCillo has a flare for ingenuous structure, and the laughs are quick and unexpected. Just when you reach the height of Festival madness, see Living in Oblivion.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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