Harvard graduate Andrew Bujalski (b.1977) quickly established himself as one of the most important new voices of American independent cinema with the 2005 release of his debut feature Funny Ha Ha. Shot in 2002 and featuring a cast and crew of Harvard grads, the film provides an insightful look at contemporary relationships that falls outside the simplistic optimism of Hollywood romance, and was selected by New York Times critic A.O. Scott as one of the ten best films of 2005. Receiving similar acclaim, his next films—Mutual Appreciation (2006) and Beeswax (2009)—further perfected his deceptively casual glimpse into the lives of white middle-class post-collegiate twenty-somethings. Despite being entirely scripted, the films' naturalism takes on an improvisational unpredictability with noncommital, ambivalent characters—absorbing in spite of themselves—veering into the intricately mundane and uncomfortable as they navigate the vagaries of early adulthood.
It’s so completely personal. Everything about that movie — it’s real organic farming, you know? There’s nothing professional about how we made it. There’s a social aspect to that; it was kind of a community project, rather than whatever [the filmmaking world] is morphing into now. The 'content' sphere.
While gaining recognition and larger budgets, his films continued in a stridently independent vein, eyes averted from the mainstream. To acheive the authentic early-tech 1980s milleu of Computer Chess (2013), he recorded on analog black-and-white consumer video and filled out the cast with actual computer programmers and other non-actors. For Results (2015), he may have embraced a wider audience, higher-profile actors and a larger budget, yet his characters continue to stumble awkwardly through what could be a standard romantic comedy, only to fall instead into another charmingly unique, loose-ended Bujalski creation. His most recent endeavor, Support the Girls (2018) peeks into the funny ecosystem at a Hooters-like establishment, with a focus on the humanity of each character, rather than their objectification.
About the Collection
In 2005 Bujalski started depositing his film materials with the HFA. The collection includes projection prints, digital screening files, production elements and masters, and a growing collection of production documentation for each of his films to date, Funny Ha Ha (2002), Mutual Appreciation (2005), Beeswax (2009), Computer Chess (2013), Results (2015) and Support the Girls (2018), as well as films he worked on while a student in the Harvard Department of Visual and Environmental Studies in the late 1990s.
Portions of the collection have been cataloged and records can be found in the Harvard Library catalog. The majority of the research materials in the collection are currently undergoing processing and cataloging and will require advanced notice to access. Please direct research inquiries to the Collections Archivist. Please note that the HFA does not manage the screening rights to Bujalski's films.
"Navigating the Shoals Between Twins" by A.O. Scott, New York Times, August 2009
"Middlegame: An Interview with Andrew Bujalski" by Phil Coldiron, Cinema Scope, 2013
"Long Awkward Pause: Andrew Bujalski Talks 'Mutual Appreciation,'" MUBI, July 2019