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'Diary of a Teenage Girl' director Marielle Heller on her 'risky' feature film directorial debut

Director Marielle Heller
Director Marielle Heller
Sam Emerson, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Director Marielle Heller
Kristen Wiig as Charlotte Goetze, Bel Powley as Minnie Goetze and Alexander Skarsgard as Monroe in "The Diary of a Teenage Girl."
Sam Emerson, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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The new film “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is based on a novel of the same name.

The story is set in San Francisco in 1976 and focuses on 15-year-old Minnie Goetz, whose life is turned upside down when she has an affair with a much older man— her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe.

The film marks the directorial debut of Marielle Heller, who’s had a long-running, close relationship with the story— first adapting it into a stage play, playing Minnie in an off-Broadway production, writing the screenplay, and now directing the feature film.

On what drew her to the story

"I think you sometimes don't realize how much you have missed something until it appears to you, you don't realize you've had a void for something. When I read this book by Phoebe Gloeckner, I realized I had never felt like my teenage years had been properly represented in a way that felt honest to me, and it was such a revelation. I felt like 'Oh my God, that's me, that's how I felt, those are the feelings I had when I was fifteen, lying in bed awake at night thinking about boys and wondering if anybody loved me that I didn't know about.'

I was just so moved by this character and so moved by this story, and I felt like part of what drew me to it was that it was risky, that it was a story I had never heard, and it felt really relatable. Even though it wasn't my story, it wasn't what happened to me as a teenager, but I still felt like I was this girl... I just found it to be really compelling and interesting and I wanted to tell the story without judgement."

To hear the full interview with Marielle Heller, click the link above.