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I Believe in Unicorns

  • Festival tour

    I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS has been traveling the film festival circuit non-stop and what a magical journey it has been!

    From our world premiere at SXSW to winning the Grand Jury Prize in Atlanta and Best Original Song in Nashville, we have also screened in Dallas, Florida, Idaho, Providence, Sarasota, Arkansas and Boston.

    We are having a special screening in Brooklyn next week before heading off to Europe. We hope you can join us at a stop along the way!

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  • Variety believes in Unicorns

    We could not have wished for a more magical review. Thanks Variety!

    Film Review: 'I Believe in Unicorns'
    Film Review: 'I Believe in Unicorns'


    Film Review 'I Believe in Unicorns'
    by Joe Leydon

    Filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff makes a strong impression with her drama about a fantasy-prone teenage girl who mistakes a brooding bad boy for Prince Charming.

    First-time feature filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff spins a familiar but affecting coming-of-age tale in "I Believe in Unicorns," a sensitively observed and arrestingly impressionistic drama that feels at once deeply personal and easily accessible. Although its commercial prospects are iffy, given the harsh realities of the current indie-cinema marketplace, this road-movie romance could find a receptive audience with the assist of critical recognition and empathetic marketing. A major selling point: Natalia Dyer's delicate portrayal of a fantasy-prone teen who falls for a bad boy (Peter Vack) laden with emotional baggage.

    Dyer plays Davina, a naive young beauty who often seeks refuge from the universal anxieties of adolescence and the specific demands of caring for her handicapped mom (Toni Meyerhoff) by escaping to a fairy-tale world where unicorns frolic, dragons lie in wait, and a lovely princess like herself can gracefully traverse the landscape. Prince Charming is nowhere in sight, so Davina is drawn instead to Sterling (Vack), a slightly older, punkish skateboarder who casually deflowers her in the back room of a music club, then treats her with stinging indifference the next time they meet. (Vack handily suggests inner pain, rage and confusion to explain, if not excuse, the caddishness that counterbalances Sterling's brooding charm.)

    The heartbroken girl is elated when Sterling changes his attitude yet again: He behaves tenderly, even lovingly, and invites her along for the ride when he impulsively opts to take an open-ended drive toward "anywhere but here." The longer they're together, however, the more Davina realizes that mood swings aren't Sterling's only unattractive quality.

    Helmer Meyerhoff covers familiar ground in "I Believe in Unicorns," and it is to her credit that she deftly avoids most of the cliches that are endemic to the territory. Viewers who have seen other films with similar storylines may be primed to expect the worst — or at least the most predictable — as Davina and Sterling aimlessly wander along the back roads while their finances slowly dwindle and their passion gradually wanes. There are moments here and there — during an instance of shoplifting, for example, or an argument that dangerously escalates — when the filmmaker appears ready to impose a traditional doomed-lovers-on-the-run plot on her freeform scenario. As it turns out, however, this is not that kind of movie.

    Rather, "I Believe in Unicorns" represents a worthy and largely successful attempt to mine heartfelt drama from material too frequently played for manipulative melodrama. That Meyerhoff cast her own MS-afflicted mother in the small but key role of Davina's wheelchair-bound mom is merely one indication that she's working in an autobiographical mode. But many simpatico members of the audience — and not just impressionable young women — doubtless will see elements of their own lives in the story as well.

    Meyerhoff establishes the daydream-y quality of Davina's p.o.v. in the opening scenes, and sustains that subjective approach to reality with lenser Jarin Blaschke's artful variations of film stock, and purposefully childlike fantasies realized through Josh Mahan's inspired stop-motion animation.

    A few details are fudged, which may prove annoying even for those otherwise willing to go with the flow. (It's never clear just who, if anyone, is caring for Davina's mother during the girl's absence.) Dyer's performance is so compelling, however, that sporadic plot holes are never more than fleeting distractions. The appealing young actress radiates a sense of wonder and an aching vulnerability as Davina, eloquently conveying the character's desperate longing for something, anything, that will brighten her dreary life with magic.

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  • Director Leah Meyerhoff featured in Conrad Magazine

    i Believe in Unicorns director Leah Meyerhoff is featured in Conrad Magazine.

    Leah Meyerhoff is chosen as one of “5 Filmmakers to Watch” in Hollywood on the Hudson

    I became a filmmaker because it satisfied the creative side of my brain and the social activist side. Narrative film has the potential to reach a wide audience and affect social change in a way other art mediums to not… My film is a coming-of-age story. The media has strong potential to shape the way girls grow up. The more realistic representations of girls and women there are on the big screen, the healthier it is for teens looking to these portrayals. I’ll consider my films successful if girls in the middle of nowhere see them and feel there’s a kindred spirit out there.


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  • Unicorns in Paris

    I Believe in Unicorns screens in Paris: We are honored to have been one of six American films invited to screen a rough cut in the US in Progress section of the Champs Elysees Film Festival


    Ion Cinema writes:

    The US in Progress Paris which promotes about a half dozen American independent film currently in post-production to European buyers in the context of the Champs Elysées Film Festival in Paris (this June) have selected film items from the likes of Michael Tully, Leah Meyerhoff and Jaffe Zinn — projects we are more than likely going to see as early as the fall, Sundance 2014 and beyond.

    Katie Mustard, Tommy Oliver (1982), Leah Meyerhoff (I Believe in Unicorns), Sean Telford (BFE), Chantal Lian (Champs Elysees Film Festival) and Ulka Sniegowska (American Film Festival)

    Leah Meyerhoff (I Believe in Unicorns) and Jaffe Zinn (Children)

    Leah Meyerhoff (I Believe in Unicorns) and Eliza Hittman (It Felt Like Love)

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  • Tribeca All Access winner!


    Unicorns has been awarded an All Access grant from the Tribeca Film Institute

    We are pleased to be in such esteemed company as Ondi Timoner, Ramin Bahrani, Liliana Greenfield-Sanders and Ryan Koo. This grant will go a long way toward helping us finish the film and we look forward to participating in the All Access Labs during the Tribeca Film Festival in the spring.


    Variety writes: "The Tribeca All Access program bestows a grant of $15,000 to each project and brings in the filmmakers for a five-day professional program set to run during the fest. Features are all in the running for TAA's Creative Promise Awards, which sees a jury of pros pick one doc and one narrative film to receive an additional $10,000 each. Narrative features include Liliana Greenfield-Sanders' Bypass, a Frankenstein-ish story about an obese young woman who transforms herself through surgery; Leah Meyerhoff's I Believe in Unicorns, about a teen girl who runs away with an older boy; and Manchild, Ryan Koo's tale about a young basketball prodigy at a Christian school."

    Check out some additional press about the announcement here:
    The Hollywood Reporter
    The Wrap

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  • Unicorns at IFP

    I Believe in Unicorns is one of ten films selected for the IFP Narrative Labs

    We are thrilled to be an official selection of the IFP Narrative Labs!

    Earlier today, the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) announced the ten projects chosen for the 2012 Independent Filmmaker Labs, a year-long fellowship for first-time feature directors.  We are excited to follow in the footsteps of such films as Pariah, Una Noche, and An Oversimplification of Her Beauty and look forward to getting to know the other film fellows. It is an honor to participate and we hope to continue expanding our relationship with IFP throughout the year.

    “The Labs are unique in our focus on guiding filmmakers to concretely and constructively plan for their films’ lives beyond post-production, and are tailored to maximizing their opportunities given the particular assets of each film,” says IFP Executive Director Joana Vicente. “With almost 80% of previous Lab projects debuted in festivals and released worldwide, the impact of this has been significant.”

    The official selections of the 2012 Labs are:
    Bastards of Young by Josiah Signor
    Blue Caprice by Alexandre Moors
    Concussion by Stacie Passon
    El Empantanado by Felipe Echavarria
    Go Down Death by Aaron Schimberg
    Hide Your Smiling Faces by Daniel Patrick Carbone
    I Believe in Unicorns by Leah Meyerhoff
    Karaoke Girl by Visra Vichit Vadakan
    Land of Tomorrow by Kimberly Levin
    The Forgotten Kingdom by Andrew Mudge

    We are thrilled to be in such great company and look forward to getting to know the other film fellows better throughout the week.

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  • Unicorns in WHOA Magazine

    Unicorns gallop across the cover of WHOA Magazine

    filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff on the cover of Whoa Magazine

    Anthony "Train" Caruso writes:
    "Staying true to life, the engaging charismatic director chose to return to the San Francisco Bay Area to shoot inside the house she grew up in and cast her own mother in the film. Thus art reflects life reflects art in a beautiful kaleidoscope of abstracted truth. Meyerhoff’s decision to “write what she knew” not only had a profound emotional impact on herself as an artist, but brought a new level of authenticity to the screen. Hopefully by watching this very personal story of family illness and interrelationship violence, other teenagers in similar situations will realize that they are not alone."

    A digital download of their entire spring issue is available for purchase here

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