SADIE was the winner of the Gryphon Jury Award at the 2018 Giffoni Film Festival and premiered at SXSW in March 2018.
SADIE is the story of a 13-year-old girl who lives at Shady Plains Trailer Park with her mother while her father serves repeated tours in the military. Her dad has broken many promises that he will return, but Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss) idolizes him and believes in his cause, so she waits, preserving his place on the home-front.
Less patient is her mom, Rae (Melanie Lynskey,) who stopped receiving letters or calls from her husband years ago. She has been half-heartedly dating the counselor from Sadie’s school, Bradley (Tony Hale,) but it isn’t until a mysterious newcomer moves in next door that she truly considers moving on.
Rae’s best friend is Carla (Danielle Brooks,) who works at the local bar and has a penchant for unavailable men. Carla's son Francis (Keith L. Williams,) and her retired father Deak (Tee Dennard) are Sadie’s charge and confidante, respectively. Francis, bullied at school, relies on Sadie for protection and guidance. Deak, stationed outside with his whittling, connects with Sadie’s old soul.
The arrival of Cyrus (John Gallagher, Jr.) disrupts the balance of life at Shady Plains. When Sadie sees a relationship developing between Cyrus and Rae, she pledges to come between them, whatever it takes.
Sadie has always tested boundaries. Mainly at school, where she is in a protracted battle with Francis’s bully and a war of wits with her teachers. But with her new mission she pushes into new territory she is not equipped to handle. Cyrus becomes the enemy, and if she’s learned nothing else from the world she inhabits, it’s that the enemy deserves no mercy.
In much of the media we consume, a man with a gun is removed from moral ambiguity: he is either an inhuman monster, a superhero saving the world, or a patriot serving his country. Death tolls rise without any perceived impact. Lives are taken without consequence.
We’ve spent a lot of time as a culture trying to reckon with the effects of the intense exposure to violence faced by soldiers, but what about the effects of similar exposure on those at home? How does this steady diet of violence (from the real-world carnage of war, mass shootings and police brutality, to the fictional, cartoonish bloodshed filling our screens) impact those coming of age in this era? When all they see are adults solving their problems with force, what does that teach kids about how to solve their own problems?
Most stories about disaffected, violent youth focus on boys. Stories about war are almost exclusively a male domain. But no one is immune to the imagery with which we are bombarded every day in this society. Young girls are equally at risk of being desensitized and damaged by this constant exposure.
With SADIE, I have tried to create a cautionary tale with humor and humanity that I hope will contribute to a larger cultural conversation. I set out to write a war film where the soldier was a 13-year-old girl and the battlefield was the trailer park where she lived. Sadie goes to war against her enemy and the wake of her deeds may affect her whole life. By considering that I hope that the audience might consider the wake of the deeds we perpetrate as a culture, and the enduring damage they do to us all.
— Megan Griffiths, Writer/Director