Institute History


Marin County, 1985—a time when things were upside-down. No marriages intact, children supporting parents, parents dating teenagers, an lots of ecological parties. Nude beaches, the mesa, hitchhiking, the mountain, Point Reyes, swimming in the San Francisco Bay.

Cally is 17—brought up for the first five years of her life in the idyllic chaos of a commune, living since then with her father on a houseboat. He is young like her, but three times more spaced out, gallant an sweet and not always successful in his efforts to get by and to hold on to her and their makeshift home. Her mother was the hero, or so the story goes, having gone underground for political reasons soon after Cally's arrival on the planet.
Cally has the quality of loving to play-that teenage boyness of getting wholly lost in a moment of action, not just stillness. She loves the particular color of the Northern California sky at four in the afternoon, the smell of the bay, and cares whether the waves are big at the beach or not. There are people that call her adrift-she feels alone.

And then there is Sabine. She is the most beautiful woman in the world. A runaway who has been running for 34 years. Escaped from her destructive home-life to the chaos of San Francisco's "summer of love," to Latin America and beyond. She is an artist, a wanderer, a gypsy and a grifter. With a lot of mystery and secrets. A grown woman. Sabine loves animal, sculpting, standing alone on an open beach, the feel of people's eyes on her in a country where she doesn't speak the language. Unlike Cally, she wants an ever-present escape clause to every commitment. Sabine is a loner-drawn back to San Francisco after a long absence by the impending death of her oldest and only trusted friend. A homecoming for a woman who doesn't want to come home.

They meet for the first time at a concert. Cally is immediately drunk on Sabine, thrilled by her eccentricity, wildness and intense way of living life. she seems the icon of a woman who is free, a pirate for Cally compared to the earth mothers who hung around her childhood commune and generally took care of the men. In Sabine , Cally recognizes something of herself. Cally follows her, pursues her, and gradually is allowed in. They go out and get in trouble, stay in and trade deep secrets. Cally hopes to help hold together Sabine's sorrow at the loss of her life-long patron saint and confidant, though Sabine is somehow slipping apart.

The more involved she becomes in Sabine's life the more she hungers for connection, hopes for a new sort of home, and envisions a joint escape. Then the clues begin. Cally follows them slowly like a thread. And right about when the drama swirling around Sabine's life is threatening to take Cally under, Cally realizes that the woman she is so entranced with may be none other than her long lost mother.

Meanwhile, her father is desperate, trying his best to hold onto a daughter slipping away from his grasp and into an unrecognizable and inconceivable distant adulthood. Wildflowers is a story about parenting you parents, discovering adulthood, locating self within chaos, and becoming friends with your mother and father.

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]