Olivia Wilde has arrived! This weekend marked two important landmarks in this woman’s life - the celebration of her birthday and the world premiere of “Booksmart”, her directorial debut at SXSW. And what a debut it’s been!
Written by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman, “Booksmart” - a “no holds barred” comedic film - follows the story of two high-achieving best friends (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) that embark on a quest to cram 4-years worth of parties on the eve before their graduation. However, the film also depicts high-school traumas and the transition into post high-school life in a sweet, smart, and (at times) gut-wrenching way.
In the span of less than 24 hours, “Booksmart” has garnered positive reviews from fans and critics alike. Some are already calling the film the comedy of the year. As someone that had the privilege to experience the premiere last night, let me safely say that those critics may be on to something.
Olivia and the cast had the opportunity to promote the film during a couple panel sessions at SXSW. The actress-turned-newbie director gave a powerful session where she spoke about her career path and the key lessons learned along the way that led her to this point. Olivia shared some ugly truths about Hollywood and the female stereotypes and archetypes that have severely limited women in the film industry. And she also made it clear that she’s not having it and not about that life anymore. She’s arrived and here to break down those barriers. “Don’t dumb yourself down,” and “Don’t take your foot off the gas”, are just some key takeaways.
Olivia also spoke about the creative freedoms she aspires to as a film maker. “We made the movie we wanted to make and told the story we wanted to tell,” the director said. The dream cast - assembled by casting director, Allison Jones - also praised the film and its creative leader. “Olivia was able to create a nurturing and collaborative environment,” Kaitlyn said in a follow-up panel. It was within this environment that the team behind this remarkable film was able to give their best work, according to the director. When asked what actors took away from the film, Beanie stated how “exciting and remarkable it was to be part of a project that built female archetypes only to knock them down” in the same film.
After observing both panels, several things are clear. We are witness to a special film. A special project that was made from the heart with a united vision. But one aspect rises above all others - Olivia is the film-making hero we never knew we needed. The cast, writers, producers and every other person involved with this project love each other and made a beautiful and wonderful film together. And they deeply admire and respect their director. Simply put, Olivia is inspiring and used her emotional intention to create a film with multiple layers and textures. Her words of wisdom to all women and filmmakers is to “create your own content” and “dream your dream so you can dream bigger.”
“Booksmart” debuts in theatres May 24. (Put this on your “must-see” list!)