What To Know About SXSW Winner 'Fort Tilden'

by Rachel Simon

Right now, you probably haven't heard of Fort Tilden. But you also probably hadn't heard of Short Term 12 or Tiny Furniture, either, back in 2013 and 2011, respectively — until they, like Fort Tilden , won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW. Now, Short Term 12 is considered one of last year's best films, and Tiny Furniture is known as the movie that started Lena Dunham's career. If Fort Tilden, a little indie comedy about two New Yorkers, follows a path even close to its South by Southwest predecessors, then there's no question about it: this movie is not one to miss.

Directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, Fort Tilden is a 24-hour-set comedy depicting the adventures of Harper (Bridey Elliott) and Allie (Clare McNulty), 20-something Brooklynites in the midst of quarter-life crises. One summer day, they attempt to travel to the Rockaways, but quickly get sidetracked by good-looking guys, bicycle thieves, and a litter of kittens, among other things.

If the Girls comparisons are already ringing strong, it's not just you; on the film's website, Fort Tilden is described as a "insightful and recognizable look at the consequences of extended adolescence." Add in healthy doses of nudity and narcissism, and Tilden just might become the next voice of its generation — or, at the very least, a voice of a generation.

Five reasons not to miss it:

1. The Cast

You may not know their names now, but give it a few years, and Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty will be everywhere. Elliott, daughter of Groundhog Day's Chris and sister of Saturday Night Live's Abby, is a star of Funny or Die and a regular at the Upright Citizens Brigade. McNulty, meanwhile, has a series of short films under her belt, and has performed across the country with various theater companies. As for feature films, both women are novices, but having their debut movie be a festival darling isn't a bad way to start.

2. The Girls Similarites

Yes, the idea of privileged, 20-something, New York postgrads freaking out over their futures isn't anything new, but that doesn't mean it still can't be great. Remember last year's Frances Ha, the Golden Globe-nominated, critic-loved film about a mid-20s dancer struggling with flaky relationships and an unsatisfying job? Or Broad City , Comedy Central's series about New York best friends struggling to get their lives together? The formula might be old, but when done with just the right mix of narcissism and self-awareness, the results can be worthwhile.

3. The Controversy

Because of the Lena Dunham-inspired plotlines, Fort Tilden will undoubtedly have its share of critics. For one thing, its main characters are kind of terrible. They're selfish, naive, and alienating, focusing solely on their own problems without much — or any — regard for anyone else's. And then there's the nudity, of which the film has plenty, along with a general, unabashed theme of sexuality. Some people will be put off by Tilden's abrasive, confrontational style, while others will eat it up, but whatever your opinion will be, there's no doubt that you'll have one. Fort Tilden will inspire a conversation, and for a little indie film, that's about the best thing that could happen.

4. The Comparisons

Variety compared it to Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, The Hollywood Reporter used When the Cat's Away, The Huffington Post said After Hours, and everyone made reference to Girls. Personally, Fort Tilden sounds more like a mix of Young Adult and Bachelorette to me, but the point is, these are quality films and shows to have as comparisons. If Fort Tilden is anything like its apparent inspirations, then viewers are in good hands.

3. The Kittens

And the most important reason to see Fort Tilden is.... the kittens! Midway through the film, the heroines discover a litter of kittens left near the beach. They attempt to save them, but eventually leave them to... you know what? Forget what happens to the kittens. Just know that at some point in the movie, an entire litter of adorable kittens will be on-screen. What more reason do you need to buy a ticket?

Images: FortTildenMovie.com