Solondz' News

latest update: 10/22/04


Older News: 2001 * 2002 * 2003

Todd Solondz, Visionary

According to a recent statement from organziers, Solondz will be receiving Visionary Award at the Stockholm International Film Festival in Sweden next month. This is the first time the festival, which runs from November 18th to the 28th, will be giving this award. According to their statement, "Fear, anxiety and depression are the key words for this visionary with one foot in the Douglas Sirk melodrama, the other in the Ingmar Bergman drama and with a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles from Woody Allen's darkest corners." You can drop by their site at:


Palindromes Sold; US Release

According to an article from today's Indiewire (by Brian Brooks), Wellspring has announced their purchase of the US rights for Palindromes, both theatrically and on DVD. They plan to release it into theatres in April 2005, with the DVD planned for late 2005.
Wellspring's head of acquisitions (and brother of Palindromes co-star Stephen Adly Guirgis), Marie Therese Guirgis said in a statement, "Todd Solondz is a director we have long admired, and so to work with him is both a dream come true and an honor. People will describe 'Palindromes' as controversial, but it is above all a sensitive, moving and very funny film that will surprise people."
In his own statement, Solondz added, "I am so happy to be working with such smart, hard working and nice people -- and also because they always distribute my favorite movies."
Sounds good to me, but "late 2005" is gonna be a long wait.


A Look Inside the Palindromes Pressbook

Members of press, above and beyond your humble webmaster, received copies of this Palindromes pressbook to promote the film...

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Here are the complete director's notes (quite different from his previous "director's statement" - news item Solondz on Palindromes from 8/22/04):
"It is possible that people will walk away from my movie talking about it in terms of the "issues," and yet this is not an "issue" movie. I have no interest in such a movie. The two sides of the "issue" are irreconcilable, and I accept this irreconcilability. In any case, the "issue" is really a bit of a MacGuffin, providing but a backdrop of a story for a young girl suspended between one family that kills one way and another that kills another way. Or between one family that offers no choice, and another one for whom all choices have already been made. Like a palindrome, the world turns in on itself, unchanged and unchanging: it is all looking-glass. My movie, however, is, ultimately, a love story, just as all my movies have been: stories of unrequited love, forbidden love, self-love. For really there is no story worth telling that is not a love story.
At the end of The Wizard of Oz Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion learn that what they always thought they lacked they always in fact had. They learn, in a sense, that they haven't changed at all: that they were always smart or compassionate or brave, that there's no place like home. They just didn't realize it. The smart will always be smart, the compassionate compassionate, the brave brave, and home home. Nothing ever changes.
But can we change? Optimists tend to believe in the possibility, with the implication that things will change for the better. The idea that we cannot change suggests that we cannot improve, and no one wants to believe this, though some may take comfort in the corollary: we cannot become worse. The question is in what way is change possible? And in what way not? Are we in some sense "palindromic" by nature, impervious to change, no matter how much, paradoxically, we change? Some may find the idea that we never change a bleak and deterministic way of thinking. And yet the inability to change is in many ways freeing, freeing from, amonst other things, the imperative to change. And to accept one's inability to change can be a form of consolation: no one is immune; everyone must be who he is. There may be a sense of doom, but there is also the possibility of grace. It's all a bit of a conundrum. But art, however it may be defined-- if it is, in fact, definable (and perhaps it is definable only insofar as it is defined by what it is not)-- has no meaning if it is not transformative. Of course, at the same time, it has yet to make anyone a better person -- or a lesser one. If someone argues otherwise, then it isn't art.
Aviva is portrayed by two women, four girls (13-14 years old), one 12-year-old-boy, and one 6-year old girl. This is the first feature film for all of the children involved."

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Download the entire pressbook for yourself in .PDF format here.

Thanks to Ben for sending along the pictures and text from his copy of the pressbook.


Palindromes Poster!

Here it is!  What more need be said?

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(click to enlarge.)

Thanks to Alexander at MovieMeter for finding this and sending it along. His Palindromes is at:


Palindromes Clips Online

Sheesh, I leave the site unattended for a few days, and suddenly Todd Solondz and Palindromes are everywhere! I won't go mad trying to link to everything, but surf around and you'll find just about every entertainment site is either reviewing Palindromes, collecting soundbites from one of its many festival appearances, or just blandly commenting on its "controversial" subject matter.

I must point out one highlight, however (brought to my attention by Alexander at MovieMeter): There's a brief interview with Solondz and a review of the film (two critics, divided), both of which are written out in text on the page; but be sure to view the RealVideo link on that page, as it also features two clips from the film!


Solondz & Barkin Q&As

There to represent Palindromes in the Venice and Telluride film festivals, Todd Solondz and Ellen Barkin (pictured below) talked to the press about their latest, apparently rather controversial feature.  In recent articles in Yahoo! Movie News (Eugene Hernandez - September 7, 2004 - who called Palindromes "the most talked about movie in Telluride this year") and The Guardian (Geoffrey Macnab - September 8, 2004), quote the pair from recent their recent Q&A sessions.

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The film deals heavily with the topic of abortion. Solondz said his film shows, "a pro-choice family which gives no choice to the child, and a pro-life family which kills. Somewhere between the two, Aviva is suspended."

Solondz described how he felt Hollywood was uninterested in backing a film which he called, "emotionally, politically, and conceptually charged," saying, "this movie was made for very little money ... nobody would touch it." Still, he's hoping this film will be seen (perhaps unlikely) in, "many places between New York and Los Angeles... I am curious to know how people from other parts of the country, the main part, would read it."

Asked about his own stance on the issues in his film, Solondz said, "they (the pro-life movement) have been winning the war for a long time... That's the sad irony. You have the Islamic front and the fundamentalists. Then, in our country, we have the same thing - this movement which is just growing exponentially and creating its own base to set policy. And what sets policy in the US of course has ramifications throughout the world."

Putting a bit of a trashier, tabloid-style sensationalistic spin on things, "jhw" of LifeSiteNews (I guess you have to expect it, considering the source) quotes the pair in an article entitled: "U.S. Actress Ellen Barkin Advocates Forced Abortion." (S)he writes:
"U.S. Actress Ellen Barkin, who stars in the newly released film Palindromes, has made controversial remarks to reporters regarding abortion. AFP reports Barkin saying, 'I am the mother of a 12-year-old girl and I can tell you unequivocally that if my daughter was pregnant, I would take her kicking and screaming to have an abortion.'
Barkin's comments came during a press conference to promote Todd Solondz's movie 'Palindromes.' In the film Barkin plays the mother of a 12-year-old girl Aviva who runs away from home to get pregnant. The bizarre film is described by Solondz in this quote concerning its main character: 'This is a young girl who has loving parents who fail her in some way, who finds herself suspended between a pro-choice family who gives her no choice, and the pro-life family that kills.'"

Thanks to you-know-who (Alexander at MovieMeter) for passing along two of the articles used in this update. His Palindromes page hasn't moved an inch from:


Palindromes Festival Reports

Thanks to all the on-the-spot film festival reporting going on, we've got heaps of juicy Palindromes tidbits that add up to one healthy update.

Firstly, here is the write-up for Palindromes from the Telluride Film Festival program:
"Todd Solondz has always been a close observer of human passions and frailties, an artist whose palette is one of contradictory acts: of class struggle, sexual ambiguity, everyday desires and ambitions, of hope abandoned or perversely realized. Such themes figure prominently in Solondz’s startling, poetic new film, which explores the circular nature of life, joy, suffering, and death that encompasses the human comedy. With echoes and evocations of Alice In Wonderland and Charles Laughton’s NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, Solondz brings an exorbitant head and heart to the adventuresome plight of Aviva, a young runaway, and the squalid, ecstatic roadside attractions of her singular journey. There simply is no living filmmaker working in this theater: exploring taboo with eyes wide open, and an exemplary tenderness that lends dreams and reality an ineffable, spiritual iridescence. He is a warrior-poet of the first rank. –BW (U.S., 2004, 100m) In person: Todd Solondz, Ellen Barkin"

Secondly, we've got Roger Ebert's comments on the film, as part of his report on the beginning of the Telluride Film Festival for The Chicago Sun-Times:
"Todd Solondz's' 'Palindromes' is a story of messy, sad teenage sexual experiences.
The Solondz film has sharply divided audiences: Some hate it; some think it is the best work yet from the director of 'Welcome to the Dollhouse' and 'Happiness.' No one seems indifferent. I thought it was brilliant and bold, especially in the way Solondz uses many different actresses to play his heroine, a young girl who in various versions of the story seeks sexual experience, wants to get pregnant, seeks or avoids abortion, runs away, and is involved in the murder of an abortion doctor.
Solondz uses actresses of different sizes, ages and races to play versions of the same character, in a device that makes the film not simply the story of one young woman's experiences, but a meditation on various possible scenarios and how the same personality might respond to them. His use of many actresses makes the material universal. There are no rapes in the film, although the men are singularly unskilled or uncaring; his heroine in all of her manifestations is naive and unprepared for the emotional anguish that sex causes for her."

Next, someone (no author credited) from Empire Online, reporting from the Venice Film Festival, shared this account of Solondz and Barkin's appearance:
"So the Birth stuff was good fun but by that time is was time to race down to meet Ellen Barkin and Todd Solondz, in town to promote Palindromes. Barkin was a surprise; a real sweetheart and a great interview. She told us she couldn't care less about being 'a Hollywood whatever,' which is why she walked away from it all at the height of her success to be with her husband and family. She sealed the deal by dissing Sea Of Love, explaining that she only did it to work with Al Pacino. In fact, she added that Solondz is the only true auteur she's ever worked with, and even he hasn't really lured her out of semi-retirement since she's more enthused about teaching (at the Lee Strasberg school) than making movies. Solondz, for his part, seemed as a reluctant as usual to take the spotlight. Nerdier than ever in his preppy shirt and geek glasses, he gave a convincing argument for his controversial film, which deals with abortion with a sense of humour that walks a fine line between compassionate and evil. He told us he didn't feel like a filmmaker, wasn't a writer or a philosopher, and when we pointed out that he seemed pretty much defined by the things that he's not, he kicked himself and mentally grinned: 'Unfortunately you listen to everything I say.'"

Then, Eugene Hernandez of Eugononline, had this to say about Palindromes from his Telluride report:
"Of the 8 or so movies I've watched during the past three days here at the Telluride Film Festival two stand out, Lodge Kerrigan's 'Keane' and Todd Solondz's 'Palindromes.' Both are challenging, powerful new films that will be playing at festivals in Toronto and New York this fall, and hopefully will also find a home in theaters.
Todd Solondz's latest, a film that has severely divided audiences here in Telluride, opens with home video footage of a funeral that memorializes a member of the Wiener family, characters depicted in Solondz's 'Welcome to the Dollhouse.' The cousin of Mark, Dawn, and Missy Weiner, Aviva is the young, awkward Jersey girl we meet in Solondz's latest film. Her journey is punctuated by experiences that have left audiences discussing, debating, and in some cases dismissing Solondz's new film."

For a final commentary on Palindromes, here's a delightfully negative one from Film Blather by Eugene Novikov (again, excerpted from a longer commentary on day one of the Telluride Film Festival):
"I dashed out of the theater and got back in line for Todd Solondz' Palindromes (F), which is easily the worst film of the year. What a vile, miserable, misanthropic, useless movie. It reveals nothing, accomplishes nothing, but sneers at everyone and everything. Solondz creates a grotesque, simplistic, ridiculous world where not a single person has good intentions, where every adult is selfish and narcissistic. He rails against a lot of things, but his main target seems to be Christianity, and he shows us lots of psychotic Jesus freaks and abortion protesters, as if to make a point.
That point, I think, is that no one ever changes, that no matter how far you get, you inevitably wind up back at the beginning again. Fine, but the only means Solondz has of conveying this is through vulgar caricature and painfully obvious metaphor (the protagonist is played by a different actress in every 'episode'); there may be some truth to the message, I don't know, but it's certainly not to be found here. Telluride seems to be in love with this guy; Happiness premiered here a few years back, and Ellen Barkin, who stars in Palindromes, called working with him the best experience of her career. Whatever. I think I hate him."

And finally, this following Palindromes pic comes from

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By the way, a few people have been good enough to write after catching the film at the Telluride and Venice film festivals, and everyone seems to have been thoroughly enthralled with it.  Most encouraging!  :)

Once again credit and thanks to Alexander at MovieMeter for the bulk of this update! His Palindromes page is still at:


Palindromes in New York

Todd Solondz's latest, Palindromes, will be making its US debut as part of the 42nd New York Film Festival, which has just announced its line-up. The Manhattan festival will run from October 1 to October 17, and screen 33 films, with Palindromes specifically showing on Friday, Oct. 15th at 9:00 PM (15B) and again on Saturday, Oct. 16th at 6:45 PM (16C).  They've posted a pretty interesting description of Palindromes, below, followed by the entire NYFF line-up:

"PALINDROMES Dyspeptic bard of stunted suburbia Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, ND/NF 1996, and Happiness, NYFF 1998) once again claws at the fermented soil of his loved-hated New Jersey - and what he unearths may surprise even those familiar with the filmmaker's taste for the bracingly bilious. Palindromes represents a startling creative leap in structural inventiveness (with forward-and-back flexibility applied to plot, as well as to the casting of the movie's yearning heroine, Aviva). It also marks a breakthrough in Solondz's handling of moral complexity as he steps, with characteristic nerve, into the fray of such hot-button issues as "family values" and evangelical fervor. At the emotional heart of this challenging film is a lonely, underloved girl's desire to become a mother. The fired-up cast includes Ellen Barkin, Debra Monk, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. 100 min. USA, 2004"

Look At Me, directed by Agnčs Jaoui (France)

Bad Education, directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain)

Sideways, directed by Alexander Payne (USA)

The 10th District Court: Judicial Hearings, directed by Raymond Depardon (France)

The Big Red One, directed by Samuel Fuller (USA) 1980 (Restored 2004)

Cafe Lumiere, directed by Hou Hsou-Hsien (Japan/Taiwan)

The Gate Of the Sun, directed by Yousry Nasrallah (France/Egypt)

The Holy Girl, directed by Lucrecia Martel (Argentina)

House Of Flying Daggers, directed by Zhang Yimou (China)

In the Battlefields, directed by Danielle Arbid (Lebanon/France)

Keane, directed by Lodge Kerrigan (USA)

Kings and Queen, directed by Arnaud Desplechin (France)

Moolade, directed by Ousmane Sembene (Senegal)

Notre Musique, directed by Jean-Luc Godard (Switzerland/France)

Or (My Treasure), directed by Keren Yedaya (Israel)

Palindromes, directed by Todd Solondz (USA)

Rolling Family, directed by Pablo Trapero (Argentina)

Saraband, directed by Ingmar Bergman (Sweden)

Tarnation, directed by Jonathan Caouette (USA)

Triple Agent, directed by Eric Rohmer (France)

Tropical Malady, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)

Undertow, directed by David Gordon Green (USA)

Vera Drake, directed by Mike Leigh (UK)

Woman Is the Future Of Man, directed by Hong Sang-Soo (South Korea/France)

The World, directed by Jia Zhangke (China)

You can poke around the NYFF's official website for yourself at:


Solondz On Palindromes

The folks at were kind enough to send along Todd Solondz's "Director's Statement" for his latest film, Palindromes, along with two new stills from the film (below):

"When you create a sympathetic character it’s only natural that your audience will want to identify with him/her. Nobody actually WANTS to relate to someone who is UNsympathetic, because few people see themselves in this light. The curious thing is how sex, age, race, etc. play so limited a part in determining the degree to which a character is sympathetic. Perhaps this is why a sympathetic character is one that all types of people can relate to. When I had made WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, all types of people would say; 'That was me! I was just like that!' (And Dawn Wiener was not even an entirely sympathetic character!) (Needless to say, I heard nobody make the same claim about Bill Maplewood, the paedophile psychiatrist in HAPPINESS, a character whom so many seemed to find 'sympathetic.') So I wondered what would happen if I cast a number of different types of people as one character, a character who is wholly sympathetic. My fear was that it would come across as too much of an intellectual exercise, a show-offy but pointless trick, and alienate the audience. But my hope was that there would be a cumulative effect that would be more emotionally affecting than had there been just one actor: more magic, and less sleight of hand. My story is a sad one, though not without a certain kick of humor. People may wonder--what does this say about the nature of character? or personality? or acting? or identity? My advice to the audience before watching the movie: even if you’re not sure you understand the what or why of it all (and I'm not sure I do), just let yourself go..."

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(click to enlarge.)

Thanks again to Alexander at MovieMeter for the scoop! Drop by his Palindromes page at:


Palindromes in Italy

Solondz' film Plaindromes is "In Competition" for the Golden Lion at the 61st Venice International Film Festival (to be held at the Lido from the 1st to the 11th of September, 2004). Their site doesn't offer much by way of film descriptions, but does provide Palindromes' running time as 95 minutes, which is certainly new information here, and says it will be screening at 10PM on Tuesday, the 7th.

Meanwhile, the Toronto International Film Festival's website has added a description of Palindromes, probably the most informative one to date: "Todd Solondz (WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, HAPPINESS) returns to the Festival with the North American premiere of PALINDROMES. Twelve-year-old Aviva, played by multiple actors, wants to be a mom. Determined to get pregnant, she comes very close to success, but in the end is thwarted by her sensible parents. After running away, Aviva finds herself lost in another world, full of strange possibility. Steller cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ellen Barkin, Shayna Levine, Stephen Singer, and Chris Penn."

Finally, Palindromes' listing has been updated to include credits for original music by Eytan Mirsky (songs), film editing by Mollie Goldstein and Kevin Messman, and set decoration by Sara Parks.  Note: no mention of Nathan Larson. They've also added credits for Jesse Cain as leadman in the art department and Christof Gebert as dialog editor, Eric Offin as supervising sound editor, and Brion Regan as sound effects editor in the sound department. Under "other crew," they've added all of the following: Jonathan Ameli .... transportation coordinator, Garth Bardsley .... music coordinator, Yale Chasin .... assistant production coordinator, Christopher Edwards .... post-production supervisor, Maya Fineberg .... costumer, Adam Nathaniel Greene .... production assistant, K.E. Johnson .... location assistant, Cate Nelson .... production assistant, Julie Schubert .... casting assistant, Dukyoung Song .... assistant production coordinator, Katie Stern .... product placement and clearances and Loretta Wallace .... production assistant. Interestingly, they've also removed a credit: assistant production manager Yale Chasin. Hmmmm.

Thanks to Alexander for bringing the new TIFF description to my attention... He has a page dedicated to Palindromes on his site at: And thanks to Josh G. for pointing out the IMDB update to me.


Palindromes North American Premiere

According to an article in today's The Globe and Mail, Todd Solondz's latest film, Palindromes, will be having its North American premiere at the 29th Toronto International Film Festival. In a July 13th press conference, TIFF co-director Noah Cowan announced their line-up, which will feature an emphasis on South African filmmakers; but will also include the two world premieres of John Sayles's Silver City & Dylan Kidd's P.S. and the North American premieres of Roger Michell's Enduring Love and, of course, Solondz's Palindromes. The festival will run from September 9th to the 18th, 2004.
The still mysterious Palindromes was described recently in an article in The London Free Press as, "[a] Todd Solondz story of a 12-year-old girl determined to get pregnant."


The Music of Palindromes

Todd Solondz's upcoming film, Palindromes, will feature a score by Nathan Larson, who also provided music for the "Fiction" half of his previous film, Storytelling. According to his website,, "I’ve just wrapped a movie with my friend Todd Solondz, his latest entitled PALIDROMES; can’t tell you anything about it, but for those of you who know his work, you know what to expect, and you know it’s hard-core." Elsewhere on his site, he elaborates, "PALINDROMES; Another one from Todd Solondz, so you have the general idea. I think I’m still not allowed to talk about it; but I happen to think it’s some of his best work. I got to rip off the ROSEMARY’S BABY soundtrack, which was a pleasure; and it was the first feature I did almost entirely on the laptop with which I write you now."

And while I'm at it, here's what he has to say about Storytelling, "What have I done to deserve to work with such great directors? Todd Solondz: “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and “Happiness” are two of my top ten films, ( though I tried to watch “Happiness” the other day and couldn’t take it).....imagine my joy when I got to work with the guy who made em. STORYTELLING is in two parts, of which I did the first and my mysterious Scottish collegues Belle and Sebastian did the second. I leaned heavy on my Mellotron, threw down some nice loops and once again gave a shout to my wife (who was knitting next door) and had her lay down some atmosphere on the mic. Go see this movie and remember that I’m not responsibile for the content.....blame my friend Todd, the sick twist."

Finally, some very good news for all of you who've written me asking about the main theme to Storytelling. It will be featured, along with music he's performed for other recent soundtracks, on Larson's upcoming CD, Filmmusik on Commotion Records (pictured below).

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First Palindromes Still Online:

Finally, some new Solondz- related news! From, the first film still from his upcoming film, Palindromes, has appeared online:

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There's not much info there ("USA - Features - Color ... starring Jennifer Jason Leigh & Wllen Barkin, directed by Todd Solondz"), but there's a new synopis: "13-year-old Aviva Victor longs for a love that always seems to elude her. She runs away from home on a quest that takes her to places she never knew existed outside her insular world, and into the expanses of her heart." OK; sounds good. I'm ready to see this now.

Thanks to Alexander for sending this great news my way. Drop by his film site at:

Older News: 2001 * 2002 * 2003


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