Welcome to the Dollhouse + Palindromes (double feature with Todd Solondz, Heather Matarazzo & Brendan Sexton III in person!)

Even the most bullied kid at Franklin Junior High wants nothing to do with Dawn Wiener, the painfully awkward anti-heroine at the center of Todd Solondz’s black comedy, Welcome to the Dollhouse. Still unconsciously donning the naive, Lisa Frank-inspired clothing of her childhood in the uncharted world of pre-pubescence, Dawn’s extreme outsider status similarly bleeds into her family life, where this sole member of the Special People Club can’t even catch a break from her own mother. Branded as “Wiener Dog” by aggressive and excessive tagging on her locker, Dawn is a conduit for the rage and confusion found in Solondz’s unique brand of adolescent pain that still, somehow, taps into a universal coming-of-age experience.

Dir. Todd Solondz, 1995, 35mm, 87 min.

Nine years later, Solondz presents another tragic family photo in the daisy-chained, elliptical narrative of Palindromes, another grimly empathetic depiction of the adolescent experience as only Solondz can provide. After Dawn is unexpectedly ripped from our lives, her cousin Aviva takes her place, bearing a different set of societal burdens as she embarks on a warped form of Dawn’s teenage wish fulfillment. In a daring experiment, Solondz casts eight actors of varying ages & genders to portray Aviva, allowing each body to absorb and pass on the stinging of mistakes made too young, and the harsh yet human consequences of experimental behavior.

Dir. Todd Solondz, 2004, 35mm (Print Courtesy of the UCLA Film Archive), 100 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!