Search Film Reviews

Friday, September 19, 2014


Rachel Keller (left) and Tobin Mitnick (right) in HOLLIDAYSBURG
Courtesy of Starz
2014, 87 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Watch for Anna Martemucci.  She's talented.  Very talented.  Like Gillian Robespierre's breakout hit, Obvious Child, Martemucci's Hollidaysburg is a relatable, well-performed, and engaging film that announces a wonderful new director to the indie film scene.  Hollidaysburg was produced as part of the Starz TV show, The Chair, where two first-time filmmakers direct their first features based off of the same screenplay, but with different crews and casts (this film was executive produced by From the Mouths of Filmmakers contributor, Neal Dodson, through his production company, Before the Door Productions).

Hollidaysburg tells the story of a few college students whose lives intersect over Thanksgiving break.  While the film certainly falls prey to some of the usual clichés, Martemucci does an admirable job giving the film a sense of honesty and a big heart (some of this comes from Dan Schoffer's screenplay as well).  Hollidaysburg is modest in every respect, but it's extremely likable and there's no pretense in Martemucci's direction.  Martemucci hits every emotional beat, creating a film that is warm, smart, and very watchable.

The cast is excellent, with Tobin Mitnick and Rachel Keller standing out.  They are the film's romantic core and have natural chemistry.  Like Martemucci's direction, their performances are completely lacking in pretense.  They are like any people you might meet at a party, which makes spending 87 minutes with them highly enjoyable.

Nine times out of ten, indie films are shot on low budgets and, much as I hate to write this, look like it (that's not always a bad thing, though).  Hollidaysburg was shot on a small budget, but looks as good as any larger-budgeted film thanks to  Meena Singh's dark, rich cinematography and quietly beautiful shot composition.

Overall, Hollidaysburg is a really good film with strong performances and a smart screenplay that announces the arrival of a major new directorial voice in Anna Martemucci.  I sincerely hope Martemucci gets the chance to direct another film.  She obviously has what it takes to direct a film and if this is where she's starting, she will be truly great after a few more films.



  1. Anyone who has been watching Starz's docu-reality show "The Chair" knows that Dan Schoffer disavowed the screenplay as rewritten by Anna Martemucci. He made it quite clear he really didn't want to be associated with her movie, whereas he quite liked the way Shane Dawson changed his original script for "Not Cool." Too bad for him, because "Hollidaysburg" is by far the better movie, at least in my book.

  2. I got to review both films from "The Chair" myself and strongly agree with your comments on this one. Also agree with MamaFrog's statement above--Dan Schoffer should definitely be happier with this interpretation of his script than Dawson's, which I found relatively worthless.