To the Stars, directed by Martha Stephens (featuring Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Shea Whigham, Malin Akerman and Tony Hale) will premiere at Sundance as part of the US dramatic competition.
In a god-fearing small town in 1960s Oklahoma, bespectacled and reclusive teen Iris endures the booze-induced antics of her mother and daily doses of bullying from her classmates. She finds solace in Maggie, the charismatic and enigmatic new girl at school, who hones in on Iris’s untapped potential and coaxes her out of her shell. When Maggie’s mysterious past can no longer be suppressed, the tiny community is thrown into a state of panic, leaving Maggie to take potentially drastic measures and inciting Iris to stand up for her friend and herself.
Martha Stephens (co-director of Land Ho!, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) directs this period piece with flair, utilizing classic black-and-white landscape cinematography to create an aesthetic feast. On one level, this is Iris’s coming-of-age tale, a story about finding power and comfort in one’s own skin. Yet Stephens also infuses the film with elements of the western genre to tell a deeper story, about women as outsiders in a time and place of repression and intolerance.