2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: JAWLINE

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Liza Mandelup follows a hopeful young online personality and the machine which drives success in this strange new world.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Austyn Tester – handsome and 16 – feels oppressed by the confines of life in his small hometown in Tennessee. But in the online-streaming world, Austyn is adored by thousands of young girls, all eager for his “likes,” his attention, or just to hear him say their name. For Austyn and many like him, a big enough fan base could mean a ticket out of rural America and into a new life of wealth and fame – quite the undertaking when you’re coming of age.

Austyn is a rising star in the live-broadcast world, a postmillennial digital phenomenon that lets streamers engage with millions of people in a heady mix of fantasy, teenage desire, and (occasionally) genuine real-life positivity – all of this as they search for authenticity and connection. Austyn may be separated from his fans, but the emotions his viewers feel are just as real as anything we feel “IRL.” JAWLINE delivers us into this burgeoning online world as Austyn is discovered by a manager and sets off on a US tour to build his following and make his dreams come true.

Some Background:

  • Liza Mandelup

    Mandelup received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program for this, her feature debut. She was named as one of Filmmaker Magazine‘s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2017.


  • Bert Hamelinck

    Hamelinck is the managing director and co-founder of international production company Caviar. While this is his first doc at Sundance, he produced several alumni fiction titles: THE RIDER, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, and NYMPHOMANIAC.

  • Sacha Ben Harroche

    Caviar’s Ben Harroche also previously produced THE RIDER.

  • Hannah Reyer

    Also at Caviar, Reyer was an associate producer for THE RIDER.

Executive Producers:

  • Michael Sagol

    Sagol is a co-founder and managing partner at Caviar. He executive produced both THE RIDER and THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL.

  • Jasper Thomlinson

    Caviar managing partner Thomlinson also executive produced both THE RIDER.


  • Alex O’Flinn
    Past Sundance docs:

    TROUBADOURS (2011)

    O’Flinn also cut Sundance fiction alums THE RIDER and A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT.

Additional Editors:

  • Amanda Griffin
    Past Sundance docs:


  • Brian Palmer
    Past Sundance docs:

    HAL (2018)
    GLEASON (2016)

  • Danny Reams

    This is Reams’ first Sundance credit. He previously edited Mandelup’s short films.

Why You Should Watch:
Austyn is a likeable, open-hearted kid – a welcome guide and fitting contrast to the stark reality and fickle tastes of the world of fame in which he seeks success and which is revealed in Mandelup’s well-made debut.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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