Winner of a 2021 Gotham Award for Best Screenplay, Dan Sallitt’s Fourteen is a beautifully realized story of a friendship between two young women. Mara and Jo, in their twenties, have been close friends since middle school. Jo, the more outgoing figure, is a social worker who runs through a series of brief but intense relationships. Mara, a less splashy personality than Jo, bounces among teacher aide jobs while trying to land a position in elementary education, and writes fiction in her spare time. She too has a transient romantic life, though she seems to settle down after meeting Adam, a mild-mannered software developer. It soon becomes apparent that Jo, despite her intellectual gifts, is unreliable in her professional life, losing and acquiring jobs at a troubling rate. Substance abuse may be responsible for Jo’s instability… but some observers suspect a deeper problem. Over the course of a decade, the more stable Mara sometimes tries to help, sometimes backs away to preserve herself, but never leaves behind her powerful childhood connection with Jo.
* Winner, Best Screenplay, Gotham Awards, 2021
“A vast vision of two friends and the fault lines between them… Sallitt’s dialogue has a richness, a variety, an impulsive energy… FOURTEEN transcends the conventional form of independent-film realism to realize a philosophical, personal cinema that seems created, fresh and whole, from start to finish.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“A wonderful, subtly devastating film from a voice in American independent cinema that will hopefully become better known.”
– Ian Mantagni, Little White Lies
“With the Oscars expanding its horizons this year, it’ll be interesting to see if anyone gives worthier performances than Tallie Medel as a frustrated teacher’s aid, and Norma Kuhling as her magnetic but unstable childhood friend.”
— David Ehrlich, Indiewire