Inspired By: Sydney Freeland On C.S. Lewis, Casablanca, and Drunktown's Finest

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Drunktown's Finest

Director Sydney Freeland's tenacity to make Drunktown's Finest was born from a misguided news story. After seeing her hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, portrayed as "Drunktown, USA" she felt compelled to offer a corrective. Enter Drunktown's Finest, an unwaveringly honest drama that sheds light on the southwest's Navajo Nation through the lenses of three disparate characters–a transsexual aspiring model, a man headed off to basic training, and a Christian woman. 

Below, Freeland offers up some of the sources of inspiration that encouraged the making of her film, which screened last year at the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance London, and is now making its official theatrical release. Find a screening near you.


"The film soundtrack to The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I listened to this constantly while writing Drunktown’s Finest."


"1491 by Charles C. Mann and A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Both of these books have changed the way I look at the world. I love when a book can do that."


"Casablanca. The writing in this film is fantastic."


"My home state of New Mexico. Best sunsets in the universe."

Favorite UK Born Person 

"Without question, C.S. Lewis. I didn’t have a TV until I was about 12, so I did a fair amount of reading. When I was about 8, a family friend from Switzerland sent me a boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I fell in love with the series and I feel like those books have been very influential on my own writing."

Lead photo:

Drunktown's Finest