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Give Me the Backstory: Get to Know Josh Margolin, the Filmmaker Behind Thelma

21/06/2024

By Bailey Pennick

One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. While we can learn a lot about the filmmakers from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival through the art that these storytellers share with us, there's always more we can learn about them as people. This year, we decided to get to the bottom of those artistic wells with our ongoing series: Give Me the Backstory!

Just like Thelma Post, the titular hero of his debut feature, Josh Margolin doesn't give up when faced with a challenge. This was true when having sound issues while filming Thelma in Los Angeles, California, and it was doubly true when it came to becoming a part of the Sundance artist community. I actually submitted this project to [Sundance Institute's] writing lab in a very early stage, he recalls. And even though it didn't get in, I remember feeling very encouraged by the feedback. So I kept going.

So I kept going not only got Thelma into the Premieres section of the 2024 Festival, it feels like an underlying mantra for the film itself. Thelma Post, a 93-year-old grandmother (the legendary June Squibb), gets scammed out of a lot of money because she believes her grandson (a delightful Fred Hechinger) is in serious trouble. Once she realizes that she knows where these criminals are operating out of, she ignores her family's call for slowing down due to her age and enlists an old friend (the late Richard Roundtree) to keep going and help get her money back in a way that would make Mission: Impossible's Ethan Hunt proud.

The result of this tenacity both on and off the screen is a delightful and heartwarming film about aging, independence, and family. Margolin credits some of this creative inspiration and emotional chemistry to a previous Sundance Festival film: Little Miss Sunshine made a big impact on me when it came out, and I still love it. I was really drawn to the fact that it was a comedy with great performances and big laughs that also had a ton of heart and style. That alchemy really resonated with me and inspired me to try to make work with similar ingredients.

Now 18 years after that film's Sundance Festival premiere, Margolin is ready to be on the mountain and share Thelma with the world. I associate Sundance with movies that are bold and surprising and personal - the kind of movies I've always aspired to make - so it's an absolute dream come true to get to premiere Thelma at the Festival!

Below learn more about the real-life Thelma, the one thing Margolin thinks all filmmakers should keep in mind, and the joy of watching June Squibb do her own stunts.
LINK: https://www.sundance.org/blogs/give-me-the-backstory-get-to-know-josh-...
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