AFI Movie Club: WENDY AND LUCY – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: WENDY AND LUCY

WENDY AND LUCY was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2008 – recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. 

Watch Student Academy Award® winner Asher Jelinsky (AFI Class of 2018) announce WENDY AND LUCY:

Movie Trivia about WENDY AND LUCY

DID YOU KNOW? 

Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond were inspired to write WENDY AND LUCY after observing the poverty that ensued following Hurricane Katrina. Reichardt said, “We decided we were going to make a film about the economic situation in America – just the divide between the rich and poor [and] wondering what it takes to improve your situation and is this idea that in American anybody can improve their lot in life true?” 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Writer/director Kelly Reichardt and co-writer Jon Raymond also worked together on Reichardt’s previous film OLD JOY about two friends who reunite for a camping trip in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

According to director Kelly Reichardt, the film’s working title was TRAIN CHOIR, the title of the short story by Jon Raymond upon which WENDY AND LUCY is based. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Director Kelly Reichardt shot WENDY AND LUCY on location in Portland, Oregon. She previously filmed OLD JOY there in 2005. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

WENDY AND LUCY marked the first of three collaborations between Reichardt and actress Michelle Williams. They also worked together on MEEK’S CUTOFF and CERTAIN WOMEN. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Michelle Williams started shooting WENDY AND LUCY only 48 hours after she wrapped her part on SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. Because there was no time for rehearsal, Kelly Reichardt and Williams mailed items back and forth to each other, including books, movies and pictures of women in Alaska for inspiration. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

WENDY AND LUCY was made for $300,000. The film was shot in 18 days with a crew of volunteers and using only available light. Reichardt cut for six months in her apartment in Queens, occasionally making trips back to Oregon to shoot additional footage. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

WENDY AND LUCY had its world premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Reichardt’s dog Lucy – who stars in the film – was also awarded Cannes’ unofficial “Palme Dog” prize 2008 for her performance when the film was screened in the Un Certain Regard category. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

WENDY AND LUCY is the first narrative feature that boutique distributor Oscilloscope Pictures ever distributed. It previously had only released documentaries including DEAR ZACHARY and FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Kelly Reichardt sees herself as an independent filmmaker working outside Hollywood. She has previously said, “I don’t consider myself to be working in ‘this industry.’ I didn’t find the industry that inviting. So to me it’s just been trying to figure out how to make films outside of it. Do it yourself. By any means necessary. And, you know, it’s nice. It’s been a really good ride. And you just don’t know… Do it until you can’t do it. I’m always prepared that I’ll go back to making smaller films at any given time. In between my [first] two features I was making these sorts of films but on Super 8. And when the well dries up, that’s where I’ll go back.” 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-What was the economic climate like leading up to the release of WENDY AND LUCY? 

-How does the film embody the American ethos of travelling west to find a better life? 

-What does the relationship between Wendy and her dog Lucy represent? 

-How does the film depict poverty in rural America throughout the film? 

-Did you find Michelle Williams’ performance convincing as Lucy? Why do you think Williams wanted to accept the part of a struggling transient which is a departure from her previous roles? 

-WENDY AND LUCY was made on a shoestring budget. What is the argument for working on a small scale outside the Hollywood industry? 

-How does writer/director Kelly Reichardt draw on the tradition of social realist cinema? 

-How would you characterize Kelly Reichardt’s style of filmmaking? How is it in contrast to Hollywood conventions and why is that a refreshing model? 

-Why do you think the film resonated so strongly with audiences? 

-How would you rate WENDY AND LUCY? 

 

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AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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