Anne (Dylan Gelula) is a student at a public high school in Los Angeles in the new movie First Girl I Loved. Over the course of working together on a class assignment, she falls in love with fellow student Sasha (Pamela Adlon). The two work to keep their relationship on the down low but it comes to light due to the hurt feelings of Clifton (Mateo Arias), Anne’s best friend. See he’s had an unrequited crush on her for a while now and doesn’t take it well when she begins telling him about her new romance.
That leads to a bad situation all around involving the school, various parents groups and more. But it’s all in the context of Anne and Sasha trying to discover who they are, which is hard enough in high school with all other sorts of drama happening around that journey. Let’s see how it’s being sold.
The movie’s one and only poster gives off a distinct Blue is the Warmest Color vibe. Perhaps that’s unfair and only comes to mind because of the subject matter similarities, but that’s the sense the poster creates. The bright vibrant colors that shade the faces of Anne and Sasha as the come close together. It looks like they’re horizontal, but the perspective of the background shows the image has been flipped to only create that impression, so they’re standing next to each other if you turn your head to the right and view it as it was likely shot. Regardless, the message is being sent that these two are in some sort of passionate relationship. At the top of the poster the movie’s Sundance award is shown off while a positive quote from an early review is toward the bottom.
The trailer opens with Sasha and Anne interviewing each other for a school project. The first hints of what’s to come are when Anne asks Sasha if she has a boyfriend, specifically the way she asks. Later Anne confesses to her friend Clifton that she has a crush on someone and we hear her talking about how that crush makes her feel. Something happens that causes tension in the school, something that seems to have been instigated by Cliff. So the rest of the trailer is about Anne and Sasha being weird around each other as parents bicker about what happened. None of it is very clear, but it’s all very dramatic.
It’s a decent trailer that’s mostly concerned with showing off the performances of Hildebrand and Gelula, both of which look solid. The story looks like a pretty standard “coming of age” one that’s focused on showing off the budding relationship between the two girls and the obstacles that come between them. Nothing special here, just a decent indie release that promises to get more than a little uncomfortable.
Online and Social
The official website for the movie is halfway decent for a small release like this. On the front page after you scroll down from the key art there are all sorts of options for buying the movie since it’s currently available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and most other video-on-demand services. Keep going and you’ll see a brief “Synopsis,” view a handful of “Stills” and check out a “Cast” list that unfortunately doesn’t link anywhere you can find out more about the players.
It’s not linked to from the site but there was also a Facebook page for the movie that shared a bunch of promotional updates, many in conjunction with the “It Gets Better” project, a natural fit considering the movie’s subject matter. There are also frequent prompts to buy the movie on iTunes or other platforms.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve been exposed to.
Media and Publicity
The movie made its debut at Sundance earlier this year but it was several months picked up by Fullscreen, which planned a limited theatrical release before it showed up exclusively on its streaming service. After the Sundance premiere there wasn’t much in the way of publicity with the exception of the release of marketing materials.
This feels like the kind of small, edgy film that needs to be championed more than it seems to be. It got decent reviews coming out of Sundance but then sort of languished, likely because of the subject matter, which apparently made it risky material for distributors. But it’s the kind of story that can have a big impact on a very particular audience. Maybe my own media exposure combined with the inherent shortcomings of search engines are not showing me the groundswell that exists, but I hope there is one.
The campaign itself is good and focuses on the raw emotions that these high school age characters are facing. That’s true to life in any situation, not just sexuality but anything involving identity and the pressures of the world around you. The audience is shown what kind of movie it’s going to be and what the story is, with few punches pulled. It conveys that edgy feeling even as it sells a small, character-centric drama.