Lena Dunham talks about “Sharp Stick”, returning to the cinema

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It’s been over 11 years since Lena Dunham released a movie. And his first movie was a big deal. In 2010, Dunham — then a recent graduate of Oberlin College in her early 20s — landed a South by Southwest debut for her directorial debut, “Tiny Furniture.” It went down so well with the industry that Judd Apatow decided to team up with her on HBO’s “Girls,” and we all know how that went.

At 35, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunham felt pressured to return to the medium that had most appealed to her in her youth. Last year, she started writing, then quietly shot “Sharp Stick,” which premiered at the Virtual Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night.

The film, says Dunham, is about a woman in her mid-twenties (Kristine Froseth) who “experienced trauma from a hysterectomy due to endometriosis as a teenager and interrupted her sexual development.” She tries to figure herself out while making ends meet as a babysitter – and at work she falls in love with the married father (Jon Bernthal) of the child she watches over. After the affair explodes, the filmmaker says, the character “undertakes a complex and sometimes fulfilling – sometimes less so – journey of self-discovery around his latent sexuality”.

Dunham discussed the project as part of this year’s virtual Times Talks @ Sundance, sponsored by Chase Sapphire (panel video is embedded above). She was joined by members of her cast, including Froseth, Bernthal, Taylour Paige and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Leigh — who Dunham specifically wrote a role for in ‘Sharp Stick’ — said she particularly enjoys working with all-female department heads on set.

“There’s just a way to communicate effortlessly, sometimes even non-verbally,” says Leigh. “You don’t even realize the difference, but you feel it. It just infuses it all. There is an ease and an openness, I think, it’s different. It’s a very safe feeling.

Paige, who made her film debut as the lead in 2021’s “Zola,” felt so comfortable around the women on set that she freely shared personal health information with them. Dunham. In the middle of filming a scene with Froseth – who plays Paige’s sister in the film – the actress began to feel frustrated.

“I had just had my period and I also had endometriosis. It’s really excruciating, ”recalls the actress, referring to the gynecological condition that Dunham also suffers from. “Something was wrong. And Lena sent me something so nice, because I was so mad at myself and felt like I was wasting our time. She’s like, ‘It’s a full moon.’ There was so much care, warmth and understanding.

Chase Sapphire has no influence on editorial decisions or content.

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