2021 Sundance Docs in Focus: CUSP

Courtesy of Sundance Institute


CUSP
Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt intimately chronicle the lives of three teenage girls in a Texas military town.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

CUSP chronicles one formative year of teenage life for three friends in a Texas town where there’s little to do but party—and where liquor, drugs, and guns are standard recreational accessories. Followed through lazy hangouts, fast-food outings, and bonfire parties, Autumn, Brittney, and Aaloni allow directors Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt to observe intimate moments within their homes and social circles. The film’s raw vérité approach creates a sensitive, multifaceted portrait of adolescent girlhood and the time and place in which these girls experience it.

As the girls open up about their pasts and explore their definitions of freedom and consent, CUSP illustrates how they rebel against or assimilate to societal expectations and toxic masculinity as a survival tactic. Though one subject proclaims “there is no normal in teenage years” and the girls outwardly assert their own helplessness, Autumn, Brittney, and Aaloni candidly give voice to the experiences of countless teenage girls. CUSP honors its subjects’ trust with a powerful, evocative film that embodies the significance of their stories.

Some Background:

Directors/Producers:
Parker Hill
First Sundance credit. Hill makes her feature debut with this project, having previously written, produced and/or directed primarily narrative shorts.

Isabel Bethencourt
First Sundance credit. This is also Bethencourt’s debut. She has a background as a cinematographer.

Producer:
Zachary Luke Kislevitz
Past Sundance docs:
THE SHAWL (short, 2020)

This is the first doc feature produced by Kislevitz. He most recently produced the narrative features PORT AUTHORITY (Cannes – Un Certain Regard) and THE BEACH HOUSE (Sitges).

Executive Producers:
Caitlin Gold
First Sundance credit. In addition to producing, Gold has a background in distribution, with stints at Lionsgate and Seed&Spark, among other companies. She is also the director of development of the 51 Fund, a venture capital investment fund to finance films written, directed, and produced by women.

Naomi McDougall Jones
First Sundance credit. McDougall Jones is a writer, actress, producer, and activist for gender parity in film. She is the founder and chief impact officer of the 51 Fund.

Chris Columbus & Eleanor Columbus
The father/daughter duo have brought several fiction features to Sundance in the past, including PATTI CAKE$, TALLULAH, MENASHE, THE WITCH, and LITTLE ACCIDENTS, through their Maiden Voyage Pictures shingle.

Jenifer Westphal
Recent past Sundance docs:
FEELS GOOD MAN (2020)
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? (2019)
THE INFILTRATORS (2019)
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE (2019)
INVENTING TOMORROW (2018)
THIS IS HOME (2018)
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (2018)

Founder/president/executive producer, Wavelength Productions, which has a particular focus in cultivating projects by young women and people of color. Westphal is also an executive producer for 2021 Sundance fiction feature THE BLAZING WORLD.

Joe Plummer
Past Sundance docs:
FEELS GOOD MAN
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
THE INFILTRATORS
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE

President/executive producer, Wavelength Productions. Plummer also executive produced THE BLAZING WORLD.

More Info:
Meet the Artist
Website

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

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