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Jill Soloway: Inspired By ‘Fish Tank’ and ‘Dreamboat Annie’

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Juno Temple and Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight.

Nate von Zumwalt

If it weren’t for her categorical agility as a writer, Jill Soloway might appear capricious. The comedian’s career has seen her journey from writing/producing on the hugely successful television series Six Feet Under to publishing a novel to, most recently, writing and directing a feature film. That film, Afternoon Delight, played in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and heralds the next promising phase in an already multilayered career.

Starring Kathryn Hahn and Juno Temple as an apathetic housewife and a young stripper, respectively, Afternoon Delight sees Hahn’s character develop a puzzling fascination with “saving” the young girl from her provocative lifestyle. Josh Radnor and Jane Lynch contribute excellent supporting performances in this perceptive comedy that took home the Directing Award at the Festival.

It is enough to say that Soloway’s career has been inspired—but by what? Below she let’s us in on the music, literature, and other works of art that have helped shape her creative identity.


Inspired by the song…

“Dreamboat Annie” by Heart

“I used to lay on the floor as a child and imagine that I was on that boat with Nancy and Ann Wilson. ‘Heading out to somewhere, won’t be back…. for awhile…’”

Inspired by the TV show…

Louie

“Louis C.K. is my hero. His show is the only one I have to watch the second it becomes available.”

Inspired by the movie…

Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold.

“Never before had I seen such an honest portrayal of gritty femaleness. The way she used the camera gave meaning to me around the notion of female protagonism. After I saw Fish Tank I was ready to direct. I wanted to be just like her.”

Inspired by the book…

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

“I had followed Cheryl for years without even knowing it via her secret online persona, Dear Sugar. To read Wild was like being able to spend time with someone I already knew so well. But rather than know her as a secret voice about the inner life, I got to interact with her as an actual human on a physical journey.”

Inspired by the comedian…

Morgan Murphy

“She’s still nowhere near as famous as she should be… and hopefully her time is coming. She’s 14,000 kinds of fantastic!”

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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