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‘Palm Trees and Power Lines’ Scored Raves at Sundance, But Its Director Says No One Wanted to Buy the Controversial Film: ‘People Were Scared’

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Brent Lang Executive Editor “Palm Trees and Power Lines,” the story of a teenage girl who is groomed by a man twice her age, received nearly universal acclaim when it debuted at Sundance in 2022, going on to win an award for Jamie Dack’s direction.

And yet, despite all the good reviews and honors, it took months for the film to find a distributor. The reason, Dack says, is many film companies didn’t want to touch a movie that tackles such a controversial subject. “People were scared,” says Dack. “There were many companies that wanted to take meetings with me and that told me they wanted to work with me on my next project.

They were blunt. They said, ‘we love this film, but we just can’t distribute it.'” One company even made Dack an offer, but suggested that she should cut a pivotal scene involving her central character’s fateful decision to take her relationship with the older man in a dangerous direction (to say more would be to spoil a key element of the film). “It wasn’t a scene we could get rid of,” says Dack. “It would have been an entirely different movie.” But eventually Momentum Pictures bought the film and released it this weekend in theaters and on-demand.

It also picked up four Independent Spirit Awards nominations, including nods for best first feature, screenplay and for the performances of Lily McInerny and Jonathan Tucker, who play teenage Lea and her predatory lover, Tom.

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