Program 35: Freak Show
CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
Directed by Trudie Styler
Arriving for the first day at his new school dressed like Boy George, and showing up every day thereafter in an imaginatively outrageous new outfit (created by Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood and Lisa Harlow Powell), Billy certainly makes an impression. Though the confident teen knows exactly who he is, that doesn’t make high school any less of a nightmare – especially when faced with a hopelessly conservative student body.
Most people have a terrible tendency to attack and tear down what they don’t understand, and teenagers are certainly no different. Led by bible-thumping MAGA-er, Lynette (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine), the students quickly brand Billy an outcast. He does gain one friend, whom Billy dubs Blah blah blah (AnnaSophia Robb) after he misses her name during initial introductions and decides it’s too awkward to ask her later. And he finds an unexpected ally in Flip Kelly (Ian Nelson, The Hunger Games), the school’s star football player with a heart of gold.
But as the bullying turns viciously physical, Flip attempts to convince Billy to tone down the glamour and come to school without the usual pizzazz. But Billy can’t and won’t allow himself to be compromised. With a renewed determination, he decides to campaign for Homecoming Queen and show the world exactly what he’s made of.
Based on the acclaimed YA novel by James St. James, Freak Show boasts a phenomenal lead performance from Alex Lawther (best known as the young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game and the lead in Imageout 2016’s Departure), and a fantastic cast rounded out by Bette Midler as Billy’s beloved “Muvv,” Celia Weston, and Laverne Cox. Freak Show is a witty celebration of the strength it takes to live uncompromisingly, and a tribute to those with the courage to proudly let their freak flag fly.
— Adam Lubitow
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- CLOSING NIGHT – Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Berlin International Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Edinburgh International Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech Republic)