The Talent Given Us

"A wonderful movie, one of the most original, daring, intriguing and seemingly honest films of the year. ...How Wagner achieved such a feeling of spontaneous realism is a mystery and a triumph." -Roger Ebert Family road trips should be illegal. But if that were the case, you would miss out on the opportunity to take one of the wackiest, fun-house-mirrored, rollicking rides of your life with Andrew Wagner’s family, their meshugas flapping from their mini-van like so many damp bathing suits. A hit at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, The Talent Given Us is Wagner’s narrative feature film about a New York Jewish family, which happens to star...his New York Jewish family. His dad, Allen, plays the dad; his mom, Judy, plays the mom; and sisters Maggie and Emily play the sisters. In this (perhaps) fictional version of their lives, Mom and Dad’s retirement, spent shopping for good produce at the Fairway and religiously doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, is shaken up when Mom decides they should head to Los Angeles to reconcile with their estranged son Andrew (played by...yes, Andrew). But she’s afraid to fly, so she ropes the whole family into a cross-country odyssey inside a mini-van she dubs a "Hasidic-mobile." Imagine tipping your mother back in a bucket seat and playing psychoanalyst to her analysand as miles of America go whizzing by. Sibling rivalry and marital dirt fly and then settle in this incredibly funny, poignant and unforgettable film.
Director Andrew Wagner graduated from Brown University with degrees in Creative Writing and Psychology. He attended NYU’s Graduate School for Film where his short, THE HARDEST HIT, won the Francois de Menil Scholarship. He moved to Los Angeles to write WACCABUC, a screenplay for United Artists and director Mark Rydell. Andrew then became a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute where he received a Masters in Fine Arts and his thesis film, THE LAST DAYS OF HOPE AND TIME, won the Franklin J. Shaffner Fellowship for excellence in directing. Andrew then adapted THE MAN WHO GAVE UP HIS NAME, a novella by Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall, which he developed at the Sundance Writer’s Lab. Since then he has directed the independent shorts, SOUTH MAIN and COUNTING, and was the cinematographer on Julie Delpy’s film LOOKING FOR JIMMY. He has also written SPLITTING, THE HALFCOURT, HUNTING THE VICIOUS, SOUTHERN MAN, and most recently co-wrote STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING, an adaptation of the Pen/Faulkner nominee novel of the same title which he will direct for InDigEnt this March. THE TALENT GIVEN US won the 2004 Jury Prize at CineVegas.
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