“Fun” – a Rafal Zielinski film
based on a play by James Bosley, screenplay by James Bosley
In a suburban wasteland of freeways, fast-food and pre-fab housing, two teenage girls meet one morning, become fast friends, share their secrets and later that afternoon, on a rising wave of frenzy, murder an old woman. They did it, they later say, for “fun”.
John is a journalist given the challenge of making sense of this “senseless crime.” Jane is a counselor committed to breaking down the barriers that block the girls’ from expressing any remorse over their crime.
Bonnie and Hillary, 14 and 15, staunchly refuse to soften their stand that the killing was fun, and challenge their adult inquisitors to defend a society that offers them no voice, no understanding, no love.
The story moves from the juvenile detention center where the girls are kept, to the girls on the day of the killing. We see them meet, talk, confess painful details of abuse and neglect. They share pain and secrets and find joy in their discovery of a kindred spirit – at last. It’s like love at first sight. They “get high just on each other’s company.” They begin a journey of ecstasy and murder.
FUN, coined by Graham Fuller of “Interview Magazine”, as “the most provocative new movie at the Sundance Film Festival”, where it won two Special Jury Awards for Best Acting for each of it’s two young stars, Alicia Witt and Renee Humphrey, started out as a stage play written by James Bosley. Developed at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and first produced at the Manhattan Class Company, it tells the story of two teenage girls who murder an old lady for “fun” .
Rafal Zelinski, having just completed “Ginger Ale Afternoon” written by Gina Wendkos, also based on her play, saw FUN at the Burbage Theatre in Los Angeles, and was profoundly affected by it.
After developing it together with James Bosley into a full length feature script, he set out together with executive producers Rana Glickman and Jeff Kirshbaum in raising financing. During the next year and a half of frustrated efforts, several times coming close to having it packaged with stars, Rafal decided to forge ahead with FUN as a low budget independently produced production. Further financing was obtained by co-producer Daminan Lee who put together a Canadian tax-shelter deal.
The production team was joined by Sharon Ben-Tal – production manager/line producer, Gloria Zimmerman – production co-ordinator, James Zatolokin – production council, Jens Sturup – director of photography, and editor/associate producer – Monika Dorfman-Lightstone. Principal photography was completed in eight days. The prison sequences shot at the Central Juvenile Hall (a real working prison) were filmed in super 16 (later blown up to a b&w 35mm interpositive) and are filmed in cinema verite style. All the flashback sequences are filmed in 35mm AGFA color. The dialogue is to script although at times the intensity of the performances appear to be improvisational. A psychiatrist for abused teenage girls coached the actresses prior to principal photography. The color sequences were shot in Canyon Country, North of Los Angeles.
FUN endured budgetary restrictions, time constraints, and natural disaters (L.A.’s January earthquake) which contaminated the baths at Deluxe Film Labs in Los Angeles, as well as tumbling shelves of original negatives. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (winning the two awards for acting) and went on to the Sydney Film Festvial (voted 5th best movie), the Munich Film Festival (voted best American Independent Feature), the Edinbrough Festival, as well as the Montreal and Toronto Festivals.
FESTIVALS & AWARDS
“FUN” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it received two Special Jury Awards for Acting Achievement and went on to show at the Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver as well as other international film festivals including Sydney, Edinbrough, Munich, Vienna, London, Cambridge, Stockholm, Sao Paulo, Hawaii, Hamburg, Rimini, Mill Valley, San Jose, Warsaw, Oslo and Wales. The Film opened theatrically at the Film Forum in New York and received two nominations for Best Newcomer Performance and Best First Screenplay for IFP Spirit Awards.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
Graham Fuller, Interview Magazine
Fun was the most provocative new movie at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. This fictional case study of two teenage girls who jaunt across suburbia culminates in murder has more sociological import than a fistful of Gen X movies. Hyperkinetic direction and blistering performances by Renee Humphrey and Alicia Witt, though having taken a some time to get released it’ll now suffer comparisons with Heavenly Creatures.
Stephen Dalton, New Musical Express
A Clockwork Orange for the ’90s? Two wayward teenagers get their kicks from a sinister form of fun. This is a dazzling and disturbingly plausible piece of ’90s cinema which refuses to let any of its characters–or viewers–off the hook.
Good, unnerving performances from its young actors give Fun more edge than the usual independent movie.
They carve their initials in your memory forever!
The Village Voice
Infinitely trickier and more satisfying than Heavenly Creatures.
The Melody Maker
Digs deeper, disturbs far more thoroughly and speaks a hundred times more forcefully about disaffected youth than Natural Born Killers!