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One of the discoveries of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival was a film that actually premiered at SXSW: David Robert Mitchell’s Myth of the American Sleepover. Receiving its international premiere in the Critics Week section, Myth of the American Sleepover is a dreamy, romantic, and wistful take on the amorous longings of our teenage years. It’s set during one night in which Mitchell’s various teen characters crisscross their Michigan town between several sleepovers, all-night slumber parties, and general hang outs. Without stooping to farfetched plot elements or melodramatic contrivances, the film compels our viewing by nailing just the right tone — it understands enough of adolescent emotion to place us inside these characters’ heads while having enough distance from it to impart a wisdom through its storytelling.

The film was made on a modest production budget but it nonetheless looks fantastic; great credit here should be given d.p. James Laxton, who also shot the gorgeous Medicine for Melancholy. It’s also another achievement for the Florida State University film program. Mitchell and several of his collaborators, like Medicine‘s Barry Jenkins, hail from the school.

Another thing: Myth of the American Sleepover is the kind of solid success that now seems old-fashioned within American independent film. Through critical acclaim it got accepted into the world’s top film festival, and its reception there has spurred healthy foreign sales. Visit Films’ Sylvain Tron told me at the film’s lunch reception that several territories were sold by mid-week, including France (Metropolitan) and Benelux (Film Freak), with the U.K., Australian and Italy imminent.

I caught up with Mitchell briefly at the American Pavilion in Cannes for a short Flip camera conversation, posted below. (Apologies for the background noise.) Check out the trailer too.

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