AFI Movie Club: BOOKSMART – American Film Institute
Booksmart Film Still - Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever



BOOKSMART, directed by Olivia Wilde, is a teen comedy about two high school overachievers who break from the mold on one last fateful night before graduation. The film was produced by AFI alum Jillian Longnecker (AFI Class of 2002), and Wilde and writer Katie Silberman were both guest speakers at a Harold Lloyd Master Seminar for AFI Conservatory Fellows.

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BOOKSMART – Reelgood

Watch Marlee Matlin announce BOOKSMART:

Movie Trivia About BOOKSMART

DID YOU KNOW? BOOKSMART marked Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut, and it earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.

DID YOU KNOW? Originally written in 2009, the first version of the BOOKSMART script by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins was included on The Black List of the year’s best screenplays. The early draft focused on the girls’ efforts to find boyfriends for their prom, but was revised by Susanna Fogel in 2014 to shift the action to festivities after the prom. The story was reworked again in 2018 by writer Katie Silberman.

DID YOU KNOW? At Olivia Wilde’s suggestion, co-stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein became roommates in Los Angeles for several months. The two actresses had met previously in their early teens when they were both breaking into theater and solidified their friendship during the production of BOOKSMART.

DID YOU KNOW? Director Olivia Wilde intended for her BOOKSMART characters to inspire political activism in young adults, hoping that they would, “realize the significance of their voice and incorporate politics in their day-to-day life.”

DID YOU KNOW? BOOKSMART premiered at SXSW in March 2019 – ultimately earning nearly five times its modest $6 million production budget in worldwide box office.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-Director Olivia Wilde called BOOKSMART “the TRAINING DAY of high school movies.” What similarities do you see in Molly and Amy’s friendship and the police drama? Are there parallels beyond the contained “one night only” time frames shared by both narratives?

-How do the girls support each other to evolve over their wild night out?

-How are the girls depicted as soul mates? What cinematic shorthand is used to convey the depth of their friendship?

-How does BOOKSMART convey a specifically female perspective? Why is it important for movies to portray diverse perspectives?

-While BOOKSMART is about teenagers, it received an R-rating – ostensibly restricting it to audiences over 17 years of age. Do you think this movie is for kids or adults? Does the R-rating allow the characters to better portray the language and behavior of actual teenagers?

-Why do you think the filmmakers included a stop-motion animation sequence? How did this impact the narrative?

-What was (or is) your experience in high school? Did you feel that you could use your voice, intelligence and community activism to be a catalyst for change in the world? Did you make a personal transformation around your graduation?

-Although teenagers must wait until they are 18 to vote, are their aspects of their personalities that represent, and manifest, social change? How do Amy and Molly embody diversity, equity and inclusion?

-How can teenagers’ relationship to the outside world act at odds with their own developing sense of self? How does that manifest itself in BOOKSMART?

-How would you rate BOOKSMART?

Watch director Olivia Wilde talk about her approach to directing:

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