SXSW Film: The Myth of the American Sleepover

An image from The Myth of the American Sleepover (image courtesy of

For today’s post I want to highlight one of the films in the Narrative Feature Competition at SXSW. David Robert Mitchell’s The Myth of the American Sleepover generated buzz at the festival and caught my attention. The film follows four Metro-Detroit teens and the way their lives intersect on the last night of the last weekend of summer. While contemplating the end of another year – and the beginning of another school year – the teens search for love and that one significant moment or memory that will make this summer stand out from the rest. Sleepover is Mitchell’s first feature length film and he felt compelled to set the story in Detroit – a place which has personal significance for Mitchell – and shoot the film on location.

The Austinist previewed the film and discussed how the characters and setting spoke to their own memories of being a teen: “That could be your friend lit by streetlight and looking more beautiful than ever. You might recognize a little bit of someone in the kid that doesn’t seem entirely natural and committed to that cigarette they just accepted.”

Here’s a look at the trailer:

A few things that stood out for me:

– multiracial cast: I’m happy to see that Metro-Detroit isn’t represented as all white.

– female friendships: As shown in the image at the top of this post, Sleepover might focus on female friendships. Here’s to hoping that some boy doesn’t come in between them – and that part of their summer quest involves hanging out with each other (i.e. not ditching each other for the entire film to be with boys).

– braces and facial piercings: Was it just me or does the girl character – who asks “You ever think about a person so much that you start to believe that they might know you’re thinking about them?” – wear braces in the trailer? I hope so! We need more girls wearing braces on television and in films. Also I’m interested in the blonde girl who has facial piercings. I hope the film delves into her character and that facial piercings won’t stand in as (empty) markers to connote social awkwardness, rebellion, or that she’s a free-spirit or something.

– title and pacing: I’m interested in figuring out what the title of the film means in relation to the narrative. I also appreciate the pacing featured in the trailer. During my teenage years, summer started off fun and exciting – hell even just sleeping in felt like a blessing. But as the months wore on summer would always – inevitably – drag on. Pretty soon the last few weeks would run into one another and then it was back to school. Sleepover‘s pacing (again judging from the trailer) seems to mimic the idea of that lazy summer, especially before you and your friends can drive and get around town . . . or get the hell out of town.

** one big concern: are the protagonists’ quests for love all heterosexual??? I’m hoping there’s at least one (non-tokenized) queer relationship in this film.

Critics are highlighting the film’s connection to other “coming-of-age” films. In 2008 Monika Bartyzel at Cinematical suggested that Mitchell may be the next Richard Linklater, and that Sleepover might be the new Dazed and Confused. In that same piece for Cinematical, Mitchell described the film as “kind of along the lines of American Graffiti.”

What do you all think?

The Myth of the American Sleepover made its worldwide premiere at SXSW Saturday evening at the Alamo Ritz, but there is one last screening for SXSW today at 9:30pm at G-Tech.

~ by actyourage09 on March 17, 2010.

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