TODD SOLONDZ (born October 15, 1959) is an American independent film screenwriter and director known for his style of dark, thought-provoking, socially conscious satire . Solondz has been critically acclaimed for his examination of the "dark underbelly of middle class American suburbia ," a reflection of his own background in New Jersey. His work includes Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), Happiness (1998), Storytelling (2001), Palindromes (2004), Life During Wartime (2009), Dark Horse (2011), and Wiener-Dog (2016).
* 1 Biography * 2 Early films
* 3 Feature films
* 3.1 Welcome to the Dollhouse * 3.2 Happiness * 3.3 Storytelling and Palindromes * 3.4 Life During Wartime * 3.5 Dark Horse * 3.6 Wiener-Dog
* 4 Academic work * 5 Awards * 6 References * 7 Further reading * 8 External links
Solondz was born in Newark , New Jersey . Solondz wrote several screenplays while working as a delivery boy for the Writers Guild of America . Solondz earned his undergraduate degree in English from Yale and attended New York University 's (NYU) Graduate MFA Program in film and television, but did not complete a degree.
During the early 1990s, Solondz worked as a teacher of English as a second language to newly arrived Russian immigrants at NYANA , a refugee resettlement agency in New York City (his co-workers there included Alexander Gelman , Gary Shteyngart and Roman Turovsky ), an experience he has described as deeply rewarding. In his film Happiness, the character Joy finds a similar experience to be traumatic. It leads her to be more sympathetic to workers\' strikes .
Solondz is an atheist . In The A.V. Club 's article "Is There a God?", he answered the question "Well, me, I'm an atheist, so I don't really believe there is. But I suppose I could be proven wrong."
One of Solondz's short films, Schatt's Last Shot, was made in 1985. The title character is a high schooler who wants to get into Stanford , but his gym teacher hates him. The teacher fails him because he cannot make a shot in basketball. He has no luck with the girl of his dreams, but he wishes he was more like the coach, whom he challenges to a game of one-on-one.
In 1989 Solondz wrote and directed Fear, Anxiety "> The end result was 1995's Welcome to the Dollhouse , which went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival . The dark comedy follows the travails of Dawn Wiener, a bespectacled, toothy, and shy 7th-grade girl who is mercilessly teased at school and treated to alternating contempt and neglect at home. It was distinct from most earlier films about adolescent abuse due to its complex characterization. It gave a balanced and sometimes sympathetic portrayal of the bully antagonist Brandon, and its depiction of Dawn, the ostensible protagonist and victim of the story, showed her as deeply flawed and sometimes cruel. The film was a major success among critics, and a moderate success at the box office. It was a festival hit, with screenings all over the world.
Solondz's next piece was Happiness (1998), a highly controversial film due to the themes explored in it, which range from rape , pedophilia , suicide and murder to a bizarre sexual phone caller. After the original distributor October Films dropped it, the film was distributed by Good Machine Releasing . The movie received numerous awards, including International Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival , and yielded strong critical praise for Solondz.
STORYTELLING AND PALINDROMES
In 2001, Solondz released Storytelling , which premiered at the 2001
Cannes Film Festival . It is a film separated into two parts,
entitled "Fiction" and "Nonfiction." The two stories share two
thematic elements, but deal with each in an autonomous manner. Solondz
used this format because he wanted to "find a fresh structure, a fresh
form, and a different way of tackling what may be identical
geographical material." When Solondz initially presented the film to
Solondz's next film, Palindromes (2004), raised the eyebrows of many pundits and reviewers due to its themes of child molestation, statutory rape and abortion . The film was financed largely by the filmmaker. Like all of Solondz's previous films, Palindromes is set in suburban New Jersey. It was released unrated in the US.
LIFE DURING WARTIME
Life During Wartime (formerly known as Forgiveness) was produced by
John Hart and Evamere Entertainment and released in 2009. Solondz
said the film is a companion piece to Happiness and Welcome to the
Dollhouse. Life During Wartime has characters in common with the two
earlier films, but played by different actors and with loose
continuity. Information about the characters in the film, and their
differences from those of its predecessor Happiness, first emerged in
August 2009. The film features
The film debuted at the
Telluride Film Festival
In July 2010 Solondz completed the script of his next film, Dark Horse , which was filmed in Fall 2010. To Solondz's surprise, the Creative Artists Agency has appreciated the script, the first time for a movie of his. Solondz commented that he realized this is because "there's no rape, there's no child molestation, there's no masturbation, and then I thought, 'omg, why didn't I think of this years ago?'"
On September 5, 2011, Dark Horse was presented at the Venice Film
Festival . On October 14, 2011, Dark Horse made its European premiere
at the BFI London Film Festival. The film received a mixed reception.
On April 23, 2012, Dark Horse was announced as the Closing Night
Maryland Film Festival
Wiener-Dog premiered at Sundance 2016. The film tells the story of a dog, as it travels from home to home. Amazon purchased the film at the festival.
On December 19, 2009, Solondz joined as adjunct professor the New York University's Tisch School of the Arts ; he alternates semesters between New York's main campus of the school, and the grad film sister program at the Tisch Asia campus in Singapore. He teaches Directing and Writing the Feature.