|Born||October 15, 1959|
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Todd Solondz ( // ; born October 15, 1959) is an American filmmaker and playwright known for his style of dark, socially conscious satire. Solondz's work has received critical acclaim for its commentary on the "dark underbelly of middle class American suburbia," a reflection of his own background in New Jersey. His work includes Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), Happiness (1998), Storytelling (2001), Palindromes (2004), Life During Wartime (2009), Dark Horse (2011), and Wiener-Dog (2016).
Solondz was born in Newark, New Jersey. He wrote several screenplays while working as a delivery boy for the Writers Guild of America.[ citation needed ] Solondz earned his undergraduate degree in English from Yale and attended New York University's Master of Fine Arts program in film and television, but did not complete a degree.
During the early 1990s, Solondz worked at NYANA as a teacher of English as a second language to Russian immigrants in New York City and described the experience as positive.
Solondz is an atheist. In The A.V. Club 's article "Is There a God?", he answered the question "Well, me, I'm an atheist, so I don't really believe there is. But I suppose I could be proven wrong."
Solondz's student short film Schatt's Last Shot was produced in 1985, and was shown at least once in 1986.The title character is a high schooler who wants to get into Stanford University, but his gym teacher hates him. The teacher fails him because he cannot make a shot in basketball. He has no luck with the girl of his dreams, but he wishes he was more like the coach, whom he challenges to a game of one-on-one.
In 1989 Solondz wrote and directed Fear, Anxiety & Depression ,an episodic comedy about fledgling playwright Ira (played by Solondz) and his frustrating interactions with women. The film contains several musical interludes, including three songs written for the film. Stanley Tucci appears in one of his early roles as an old, disliked acquaintance of Ira, who takes up playwriting on a whim and becomes the toast of Off-Broadway.
The frustrations of his first feature led Solondz to swear off further involvement with the industry. More than five years later, an attorney friend urged Solondz to give filmmaking another go, and promised partial finance for any project Solondz came up with.[ citation needed ] The end result was 1995's Welcome to the Dollhouse , which went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The dark comedy follows the travails of Dawn Wiener, a bespectacled, toothy, and shy 7th-grade girl who is mercilessly teased at school and treated to alternating contempt and neglect at home. It was distinct from most earlier films about adolescent abuse due to its complex characterization. It gave a balanced and sometimes sympathetic portrayal of the bully antagonist Brandon, and its depiction of Dawn, the ostensible protagonist and victim of the story, showed her as deeply flawed and sometimes cruel and selfish herself. The film was a major success among critics, and a moderate success at the box office. It was a festival hit, with screenings all over the world.
Solondz's next piece was Happiness (1998), a highly controversial film due to the themes explored in it, which range from rape, pedophilia, incest, suicide, and murder to a bizarre sexual phone caller. After the original distributor October Films dropped it, the film was distributed by Good Machine Releasing.The movie received numerous awards, including International Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and yielded strong critical praise for Solondz.
In 2001, Solondz released Storytelling, which premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.It is a film separated into two parts, entitled "Fiction" and "Nonfiction." The two stories share two thematic elements, but deal with each in an autonomous manner. Solondz used this format because he wanted to "find a fresh structure, a fresh form, and a different way of tackling what may be identical geographical material." When Solondz initially presented the film to the MPAA, he was told that if he wished to receive a rating other than NC-17, he would have to remove a scene of explicit sex involving a white female and a black male. However, a clause in Solondz's contract allowed him to cover part of the actors with a bright red box. "For me it's a great victory to have a big red box, the first red box in any studio feature [...] it's right in your face: You're not allowed to see this in our country." Solondz did, however, remove a portion of the film (which has variously been reported as either a subplot of the second story, or a third story entirely) which contained a sex scene involving two male actors (one of whom was James Van Der Beek).
Solondz's next film, Palindromes (2004), raised the eyebrows of many pundits and reviewers due to its themes of child molestation, statutory rape and abortion. Like all of Solondz's previous films, Palindromes is set in suburban New Jersey. It was released unrated in the US.
Life During Wartime (formerly known as Forgiveness) was produced by John Hart and Evamere Entertainment and released in 2009.Solondz said the film is a companion piece to Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse. Life During Wartime has characters in common with the two earlier films, but played by different actors and with loose continuity. Information about the characters in the film, and their differences from those of its predecessor Happiness, first emerged in August 2009. The film features Ally Sheedy, Renée Taylor, Paul Reubens, Ciarán Hinds, Shirley Henderson, Michael Lerner, Michael Kenneth Williams, Charlotte Rampling, Allison Janney, Rich Pecci and Chris Marquette.
The film debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2009; it was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in August–September 2009, and it won the Osella award there for Best Screenplay.
In July 2010, Solondz completed the script of his next film, Dark Horse , which was filmed in the fall of 2010. To Solondz's surprise, the Creative Artists Agency appreciated the script, the first time for a movie of his.Solondz commented that he realized this is because "there's no rape, there's no child molestation, there's no masturbation, and then I thought, 'omg, why didn't I think of this years ago?'"
On September 5, 2011, Dark Horse was presented at the Venice Film Festival. On October 14, 2011, Dark Horse made its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. The film received a mixed reception. On April 23, 2012, Dark Horse was announced as the Closing Night selection for Maryland Film Festival 2012.
Wiener-Dog premiered at Sundance 2016. The film tells the story of a dog, as she travels from home to home. Amazon purchased the film at the festival.Starring an ensemble cast led by Ellen Burstyn, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Greta Gerwig, Tracy Letts, and Zosia Mamet, the film serves as a spin-off from Solondz’s 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse, which also features the character of Dawn Wiener. It was released in the US on June 24, 2016 to positive reviews.
As of June 2021, Solondz was arranging financing for his next film, Love Child. Starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, it is set to be a twist on the story of Oedipus.
|1989||Fear, Anxiety & Depression||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Role: Ira Ellis|
|1995||Welcome to the Dollhouse||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2009||Life During Wartime||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|1984||Feelings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Uncredited||Student film |
Role: Sensitive Young Man
|1986||Schatt's Last Shot||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Thesis film |
Role: Ezra Schatt
|1988||Married to the Mob||The Zany Reporter|
|1997||As Good as It Gets||Man on Bus|
|Character||Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)||Happiness (1998)||Palindromes (2004)||Life During Wartime (2009)||Wiener-Dog (2016)|
|Dawn Wiener||Heather Matarazzo||Mentioned||Greta Gerwig|
|Brandon McCarthy||Brendan Sexton III||Kieran Culkin|
|Mark Wiener||Matthew Faber||Matthew Faber||Rich Pecci|
|Marj Wiener||Angela Pietropinto||Angela Pietropinto||Mentioned|
|Harvey Wiener||Bill Buell||Bill Buell||Michael Lerner|
|Joy Jordan Mellencamp||Jane Adams||Shirley Henderson|
|Andy Kornbluth||Jon Lovitz||Paul Reubens|
|Allen Mellencamp||Philip Seymour Hoffman||Michael K. Williams|
|Bill Maplewood||Dylan Baker||Ciarán Hinds|
|Helen Jordan||Lara Flynn Boyle||Ally Sheedy|
|Timmy Maplewood||Justin Elven||Dylan Riley Snyder|
|Trish Jordan Maplewood||Cynthia Stevenson||Allison Janney|
|Chloe Maplewood||Lila Glantzman-Leib||Emma Hinz|
|Billy Maplewood||Rufus Read||Chris Marquette|
|Mona Jordan||Louise Lasser||Renée Taylor|
In 2009, Solondz became an adjunct professor on the faculty of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.He teaches a course titled Directing and Writing the Feature.
In May 2019, Solondz spent a week as the filmmaker in residence at the Centre for Film and Screen at the University of Cambridge.
In 2018, Solondz premiered his debut play, titled Emma and Max. The production began previews October 1, opened on October 14, and ran through November 4. It starred Ilana Becker, Zonya Love, Matt Servitto, and Rita Wolf.
In 2007, Solondz was honored with the Filmmaker on the Edge Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival.[ citation needed ]
Happiness is a 1998 American black comedy film written and directed by Todd Solondz, that portrays the lives of three sisters, their families, and those around them. The film was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for "its bold tracking of controversial contemporary themes, richly-layered subtext, and remarkable fluidity of visual style," and the cast received the National Board of Review award for best ensemble performance.
Welcome to the Dollhouse is a 1995 American coming-of-age black comedy film written and directed by Todd Solondz. An independent film, it won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival and launched the careers of Solondz and Heather Matarazzo. The story follows the unpopular middle schooler Dawn as she goes to extreme lengths trying to earn the respect of her vicious fellow students and her disinterested family. Dawn reappears in two of Solondz's other films, Palindromes and Wiener-Dog while her brother and father appear in the former in addition to Life During Wartime.
Palindromes is a 2004 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Todd Solondz. Referencing Solondz's previous Welcome to the Dollhouse, it was nominated for the Golden Lion award at the 61st Venice International Film Festival.
Morgan J. Freeman is an American film director. In 1997, his debut feature, Hurricane Streets, won three awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Christine Vachon is an American film producer active in the American independent film sector.
Ted Hope is an American independent film producer based in New York City. He is best known for co-founding the production/sales company Good Machine, where he produced the first films of such notable filmmakers as Ang Lee, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Field, Michel Gondry, Moisés Kaufman, and Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, among others. Hope later co-founded This is That with several associates from Good Machine. He later worked at the San Francisco Film Society and Amazon Studios.
Douglas Geoffrey McGrath was an American screenwriter, film director, and actor. He received various accolades, including nominations for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Tony Award, and Primetime Emmy Award.
Edward Lachman is an American cinematographer and director. He has primarily worked in independent film, and has served as director of photography on films by Todd Haynes, Ulrich Seidl, Wim Wenders, Steven Soderbergh and Paul Schrader. His other work includes Werner Herzog's La Soufrière (1977), Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides (1999), Robert Altman's final film A Prairie Home Companion (2006), and Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime (2009). He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers.
Life During Wartime is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by filmmaker Todd Solondz. The film is a loose sequel to his 1998 film Happiness and 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse, with new actors playing the same characters.
Mike S. Ryan is an American film producer. He is most known for producing the indie hit feature Junebug, starring Amy Adams. Adams received a nomination for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, making it one of the most inexpensive films to ever receive a nomination. He has gone on to make films with such auteurs as Kelly Reichardt, Hal Hartley, Bela Tarr, Todd Solondz, and Rick Alverson.
Jason Kliot is an American independent film producer based in New York. Kliot emerged with the American indie wave of the 1990s, producing alongside his wife and business partner Joana Vicente. In 1995 Kliot and Vicente associate produced Todd Solondz's feature debut, Welcome to the Dollhouse, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Kliot and Vicente have since worked with directors such as Steven Soderbergh, Brian De Palma, Hal Hartley, Nicole Holofcener, Jim Jarmusch, and Alex Gibney.
Werc Werk Works is an independent film production and finance company founded by Elizabeth Redleaf and Independent Spirit Award-nominated producer Christine Kunewa Walker. The company plans to make three to four films per year in the sub-$5 million range.
Nancy Schwartzman is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, member of the Directors Guild of America, and The Academy.
Derrick Tseng is an American independent film producer based in New York City. Following graduate work in literature and a brief career as a writer and editor in school book publishing, he transitioned to film, first as a lighting technician, then as a line producer and first assistant director. In the 1990s, he moved up the ranks of the New York independent film world, eventually establishing himself as a producer. Since 2001, Tseng has been a frequent collaborator of filmmakers David Gordon Green and Todd Solondz.
Dark Horse is a 2011 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Todd Solondz. It stars Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Donna Murphy, Christopher Walken, Zachary Booth and Aasif Mandvi.
Jill Wisoff is an American filmmaker, performer, actress and film composer best known for original music and songs in Welcome to the Dollhouse, Todd Solondz's critically acclaimed 1996 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner.
Wiener-Dog is a 2016 American comedy film directed and written by Todd Solondz. Starring an ensemble cast led by Ellen Burstyn, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Greta Gerwig, Tracy Letts, and Zosia Mamet, the film serves as a spin-off from Solondz's 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse, which also features the character of Dawn Wiener. The film is also inspired by the 1966 drama Au Hasard Balthazar, directed by Robert Bresson.
Welling Films is an American film production company and studio based in Houston, Texas. It was launched in mid-2006 by Houston-born choreographer and photographer Shawn Welling. They have produced five feature films, along with the web series AXI: Avengers of eXtreme Illusions, and several narrative and documentary short films.
Matthew Ross is an American film director, screenwriter, journalist and fiction writer based in Brooklyn. He is best known for writing and directing Frank & Lola, which debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was later released by Universal Studios.
Keaton Nigel Cooke is an American film actor, television actor, and singer. He made his television debut in Difficult People (2015) and his film debut in Wiener-Dog (2016).