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USA, 2010, 90 Minute Running Time
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
DIRECTOR: Lena Dunham
Producer: Kyle Martin, Alicia Van CouveringEditor: Lance EdmandsScreenwriter: Lena DunhamCinematographer: Jody Lee LipesPrincipal Cast: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Alex Karpovsky, Grace Dunham, Amy Seimetz, Rachel Howe
Newly graduated 22-year-old Aura has returned to her artist mother’s TriBeCa home with a whole lot of baggage: she has just been dumped by her college boyfriend; her degree in film theory is seemingly useless; her online videos have an unimpressive YouTube following; and her hamster, Gilda, is dying. In short, Aura is having a hard time of it, and she wants everyone to know. It doesn’t help that her surroundings are picture-perfect, from the clean, stark-white loft to the confident presence of her younger sister, who is already following in the overachieving footsteps of their successful mother. Worst of all for Aura is the pervasive feeling that she should know what to do next—but doesn’t.
Tiny Furniture derives its name from the photographs her mother takes of miniatures oddly juxtaposed with larger objects—a fitting metaphor for the postcollegiate melancholy, born of feeling insignificant in the real world, with which this slyly unsettling coming-of-age comedy-drama is suffused. Twenty-three-year-old Lena Dunham wrote, directed and stars in the film—along with her mother and sister, who likewise play skewed versions of themselves. (They're joined by the ever-deadpan Alex Karpovsky, director of SDFF31 comedy Woodpecker, who also starred in last year's festival hit Harmony and Me.) Dunham, who was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2009, convincingly portrays Aura in all her restless angst—balanced, however, by a slightly unhinged sense of humor. It’s that which allows Aura to realize that while privilege has its advantages, it’s no blueprint for who to be or how to get there.
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