Post(s) tagged with "Clay Liford"

Catching Up With AFI FEST 2011 Filmmakers

Michael Roskam

Michael Roskam (BULLHEAD): AFI FEST 2011 New Autuers Audience Award Winner and 2012 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film

Favorite AFI FEST Moment: I enjoyed the whole festival the whole time; the people of the festival, the audience, the guests and colleagues - the atmosphere. But as a director, being in Hollywood with your movie, visiting the theaters, and meeting your audience was, in this case, very special. I assume that winning the Audience Award has something to do with it.

Project Update: I can’t really reveal too much about it but I’m writing my new feature called THE FAITHFUL.

Alex Ross PerryAlex Ross Perry (THE COLOR WHEEL): AFI FEST 2011 Young Americans program. Perry will be on the competition jury of the 2012 Locarno Film Festival

Favorite AFI FEST Moment: Really, one of my favorite moments of my whole festival year was standing on the roof of the amazing Roosevelt Hotel my second night there, looking down at Hollywood Boulevard and realizing that I was surrounded by so many of my best friends and fellow filmmakers. People with whom I had shared rough cuts of THE COLOR WHEEL months earlier (such as Sophia Takal, Larry Levine and Joe Swanberg, as well as some of my oldest friends and favorite collaborators like Kate Sheil) had all been invited to this amazing place to present our small personal films in a tremendously welcoming environment. It felt as though we had all arrived at this point together and it really was satisfying and rewarding to be invited to screen at a festival where Clint Eastwood was on page 10 of the program, Spielberg was on page 20, and me and all my friends were on page 40 or 45 or so.

Project Update:  I have a new feature script that I am trying to get producers and stuff lined up for. It is an intimate epic about success and betrayal set in New York. I hope to shine a hilarious light on the way phonies and jealous types try to ruin and destroy others who are busy self destructing anyway. It is huge, definitely the biggest thing I have ever done and I really want to make it soon. I am also working on creating a TV series for a network you have heard of that is going to be announced soon, I hope.

Clay Liford

Clay Liford (WUSS): AFI FEST 2011 Young Americans Audience Award Winner

Favorite AFI FEST Moment: We met so many lovely filmmakers at the FEST. AFI encourages interaction in a manner that many festivals don’t. We had dinner with Nacho Vigalondo (Director, EXTRATERRESTRIAL) one night.

Project Update: I’m currently in the final stages of post-production on my new film, SLASH. It’s about a pre-teen who writes erotic Harry Potter fan fiction. I’m also in the developmental stages on several features, one of which is a fairly direct follow up to WUSS.

Fully-Grown WUSS


Egyptian-Spielberg, 11/6/2001, 4:15 PM
Chinese 3, 11/7/2011,  4:15 PM

By Kim Luperi

“I know this can be a scary place…there are people that can help.”

The line from Clay Liford’s WUSS quite timely aligns with newscasts, social media sites and the like on the hot topic of bullying. 

So this is a drama, right? Wrong. WUSS diverges from what’s expected in the fact that a teacher utters this advice comically. Oh, and it is also directed to a fellow teacher. 

From the moment permanent sub Mitch Parker (Nate Rubin), a dead ringer for an older, still awkward Michael Cera, is bullied by Vice Principle Crowder (Tony Hale) while trying to impress a high school crush at his 10-year reunion (by showing her his classroom—in the same building they attended school, no less), the stage is set for an endless barrage of abuse, verbally and physically, by Mitch’s coworkers, friends, sister and students, including gangster wannabe Re-Up (Ryan Anderson).

The only person who seems to recognize that Mitch needs help is bright outcast student Maddie (Alicia Anthony), who takes Mitch under her wing in a reverse role of power. She instantly solves one of his problems, but, just as quickly, her presence in his life creates another issue by the fact that she is his student.

The world of WUSS is one in which most all the adults are at the mercy of their students. Comically, the teachers are well aware of this; Mitch and his male coworkers constantly discuss the increasingly insidious nature of students at the school, both in funny and serious terms, through observations of the tantalizing sexuality of the teenage girls and the escalating defiant nature of modern day kids. Their ineptitude with dealing with the student’s disobedience is obvious when it comes out that everyone, including the faculty, knows that Re-Up and his cohorts are responsible for Mitch’s black eye, and no action is taken. Clearly, though the scene may look familiar, teens have acquired more power since Mitch and his buddies roamed the halls just 10 years before. Or is it that adults have become more imprudent? 

Writer-director Liford creates a dangerously twisted tale from very hot, and extremely touchy, subjects in his exploration of harassment and teacher-student relationships. Though one is naturally hesitant to laugh in the face of such stories today, particularly bullying, the characters and scenarios they are placed in makes it hard not to release a few chuckles. At the same time, however, one must acknowledge that the adults’ nonchalant and defeated attitude towards the students’ actions fuel the vicious fire, and even Mitch, in trying to seek revenge near the film’s conclusion, does not confront or take responsibility for his role in the cycle of violence, as an adult obviously should. 

Though the setting and characters of WUSS are frighteningly realistic, the fact that the teacher is the one being harassed by most everyone in his life—and with no real reason why—partially grants it levity despite having such a serious subject. One would be hard-pressed to like the film if the tables were turned and the roles played out in the expected way.

Kim Luperi can be reached at

WUSS screens as part of our Young Americans section at AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi!

Mega-dork Mitch is a substitute teacher who finds himself forced to take a stand when his students take their ridicule too far.


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