This year at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Iranian-American filmmaker Desiree Akhavan will debut her first feature film, Appropriate Behavior. Set in Brooklyn, N.Y., the film follows Akhavan’s character, Shirin, as she attempts to get over her ex and simultaneously come out as bisexual to her very traditional Persian family.
“With family, romantic partners and even work, by simply being herself, she will always be inappropriate,” says Akhavan of film’s title. Shirin is a girl who is “not quite Persian enough, not quite gay enough, not quite anything enough.” And the film somehow manages to work with the coming-out narrative in a refreshingly honest (and hilarious) manner — without a hint of cliché or cheesiness.
2. Here’s what you need to know about the film:
3. Akhavan is pulling off a hat trick for her first film; acting as writer, director, and actor.
“It felt like the right time and the right story. I always knew I wanted to direct, that was a non-negotiable,” explains Akhavan.
4. The film will be competing in the NEXT category. “Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling” are included in this program.
5. Many of Shirin’s experiences in the film were drawn from Akhavan’s own life.
“The film is inspired by my experiences, but isn’t based on events that took place.”
6. The film was inspired by her own popular web series, The Slope.
The award-winning web series followed the lives of a lesbian couple navigating their (rocky) relationship in Park Slope, Brooklyn. You can still watch episodes!
7. There will be sex scenes that are actually relatable — landing somewhere between painfully awkward and unbelievably perfect.
Akhavan says, “it’s rare to see depictions of sex in film that I relate to […] they’re either incredibly awkward and uncomfortable and beginner style or they’re too smooth and silky, in front of a fireplace […] It can be both.”
8. The cast is a wonderful mix of both familiar and new faces.
Yes, that is Scott Adsit from the likes of 30 Rock, but you’re going to love meeting the rest of the cast, including Halley Feiffer and Rebecca Henderson, just as much.
9. The film will make you laugh, cringe, and maybe even tear up a bit.
“In my experience, life is always slipping back and forth between comedic farce and tragic melodrama, so I appreciate it when films get the balance right and make it feel truthful.”