Hebden Bridge Film Festival – Ones to Watch: Eighth Grade

The second film in our ‘Ones to Watch’ series is the critically acclaimed Eighth Grade, directed by Bo Burnham. It will be shown at Hebden Bridge Picture House at 12:00pm on Sunday (24th March).

It centres around an awkward 13-year-old girl, Kayla (Elsie Fisher), who is just trying to get through the last few weeks of eighth grade before she goes to high school.

The concept isn’t exactly original, but there are two huge reasons why this film has already been such a success: the director and the lead actor.

Some of you will be familiar with Bo Burnham’s musically-infused stand-up comedy. His masterful arrangements on stage which underpin the intelligence and wit he approaches contemporary issues with are a sight to behold.

In his hit comedy tours, ‘what.’ and ‘Make Happy’ he approaches subjects such as growing up, anxiety and relationships in hilarious, yet completely relatable ways.

It stands to reason then that if a man of his talents should turn is hand to writing and directing a movie about those exact same subjects, the end product would also be entertaining, funny and painfully realistic.

Eight Grade is Burnham’s directorial debut. He said his anxieties led him to begin writing the screen play in 2014. Photo: Heather Martino

Being his humble self though, Burnham places the majority of the plaudits on his lead actor, Elsie Fisher. In an interview with Collider, Burnham said: “Without her, it was dead. It was her or nothing. We shouldn’t have greenlit this movie before we found her, but we did.”

This film has received a huge amount of attention across the world since its release last year. It’s won over 50 different awards and has been nominated for more. We believe it would be enjoyed by all ages, but we would particularly recommend it to families, especially those with teenagers.

What Louise had to say:

Louise Wadley’s debut feature, ‘All About E’ was released in 2016 and she co-founded Girls’ Own Pictures with her partner, Jay Rutovitz, due to frustrations about the lack of women in leading roles.

“The thing that’s really interesting about Bo is his ability to get inside the mind and the world of a 13-year-old girl. How did he do that so beautifully?

“There is no division between the writing and the person that you see on screen and I think that’s a lot down to the actress. I think that Bo is a really unique individual and why people are so affected by this film is that he genuinely has no ego about letting her take lead. And she allowed herself to be filmed in her most vulnerable moments.

“I think it’s such a universal film. Everybody in the world was a horrible teenager. Everybody was miserable and thought everyone hated them. Everybody had pimples. Everybody thought they were too fat, too think, too small too big and somehow Bo has captured that.”