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Todd Solondz, Soul of Suburban Satire

April 29, 2013 — Just 10 years after finishing his first student film at NYU, Todd Solondz put his own stamp on the coming-of-age genre with his second feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995). The film, a black comedy about the cruelty of junior high school, parents, adult figures and suburban life, won awards at countless festivals and launched Solondz’s career as a master of social satire and bitter realism. Now, with 10 films under his belt, including Happiness (1998), the fiction/non-fiction crossover Storytelling (2001) and Palindromes (2004), Solondz has garnished his resume with a Sundance Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay and nominations for Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Awards for writing and directing.

The Film & Video Program proudly welcomes visiting Rankin Scholar Todd Solondz for a two-day visit. We’ll screen Welcome to the Dollhouse in the URBN Annex Screening Room on Wednesday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, May 9, Todd will join Department of Cinema & Television faculty in the URBN Annex Screening Room for a symposium on directing independent films at 10:30 a.m. Both events are free and open to the public. The URBN Annex Screening Room is located at 3401 Filbert St., Philadelphia.

When it comes to American coming-of-age movies, director, writer and actor Todd Solondz identifies two common tropes in building characters: the cute and cuddly Disney kid or the evil devil monster. “For me, middle class kids growing up in the suburbs is fertile territory; that correctional facility architecture that is endemic to the landscape of American suburbia,” Solondz said during the 1996 Deauville Film Festival. “In American films, this period of life is not treated seriously. There’s almost a sort of primal aspect to it. Some cultures foster the behavior more than others.”

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