Little Birds

Little Birds

Juno Temple as Lily Hobart in LITTLE BIRDS. Image courtesy of Millennium Entertainment.

Little Birds (2011/2012)

Opened: 08/29/2012 Limited

Angelika/NYC08/29/2012 - 09/06/20129 days
Village East09/07/2012 - 09/13/20127 days
NoHo 709/14/2012 - 09/20/20127 days
Playhouse 709/14/2012 - 09/20/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Genre: Drama

Rated: R for for pervasive language, some violence including a sexual assault, sexuality/nudity, drug and alcohol use - all involving teens.


15 year-old Lily (Juno Temple) and her best friend Alison (Kay Panabaker) live on the shores of the Salton Sea among rundown trailers parks, rotting household items, drained pools and decaying streets. What was once an oasis for the wealthy and famous has become a near ghost town, leaving its residents fighting for breath in the deep end. Lily feels eternally claustrophobic and rebellious, living with her manic, single mother (Leslie Mann), clinging to hope for something more exciting than visits with her young and already washed up Aunt (Kate Bosworth).

When they meet a few visiting street kids, the girls' bond is finally tested and Lily convinces Alison to follow the boys back to Los Angeles. Not intimidated by the journey ahead, Lily is hopelessly drawn to one of the boys and the freedoms of their lifestyle. But in the big city, Lily and Alison quickly fall into the boys' world of scams and petty crime. Lily is determined to stay and make it work, while Alison is overwhelmed and eager to return home. When an idea is hatched to use Lily as bait for men with money to steal, things quickly escalate to a life-changing moment. Lily must decide how far she will go to grow up and Alison must decide how far she will go to protect Lily.

Director's Statement

Movies saved my life. I grew up terrified as a kid. My home was volatile and violent. I developed nervous tics, and found the only time they didn't occur was when I was lost in a movie. I lived in a small rural town, but craved concrete and the rush of the "real world." I left home for the streets of Boston, and the "real world" was waiting with its sharp teeth bared.

I wound up homeless, but found a bunch of other throw-away kids and we formed a gang to protect ourselves. I'd been kicked around my whole life and for the first time I started kicking back. I was trying to escape the violence and misery of my home, only to end up being swallowed by it tenfold. The only places I felt safe were the local art house theaters like the Coolidge Corner and The Brattle, where I discovered older films like "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven," and newer ones like "All The Real Girls." And for those two hours I would be free. Dreading the moment the lights came up and I had to go back out onto the streets.

After more than a decade of drowning in that world, I crawled out of the criminal lifestyle and headed for Los Angeles. People like me didn't get to make movies, but I swore I'd die trying. I met LITTLE BIRDS producer Jamie Patricof and for the first time someone saw me as more than just a gang member. He saw an artist. He, along with Michelle Satter and the Sundance Institute, changed my life. Giving me the tools to find my voice and helping me find my footing in the world.

The Sundance labs were the hardest and most challenging thing I've ever done. I'd spent my life doing my best to bury any semblance of creativity or vulnerability inside myself. I was coming from a culture where those traits weren't exactly valued. So for me, going through the screenwriter labs, and the director's lab meant more than just learning how to make a film. They were about breaking down those walls and finding a new language to express myself. It was on the Sundance mountain, and after a particular conversation with Robert Redford, that I took a personal vow of non violence. That I would never raise my voice or my hand to another human being again. I wanted to stop destroying, and start creating.

It's been a long journey from victim, to victimizer, to pacifist. From homeless, to gang member, to filmmaker. LITTLE BIRDS is about none of that, but informed by all of it. The semi-autobiographical aspect of LITTLE BIRDS isn't the homeless teenage boys, but rather the two girls, Lily and Alison, and the last few days of their friendship. It's about leaving home too soon, and the world you'll find waiting for you. There's a version of LITTLE BIRDS that I think people will expect -- gritty and sensationalistic. I refused to make that movie. The story I wanted to tell, and the one my brilliant lead actresses allowed me to, was about innocence and its subsequent loss.

-- Elgin James (Writer/Director)