CIFF Recommends: "Shirley" ...

Here at Coronado Island Film Festival we can’t resist a good psychological thriller when it comes our way, and “Shirley” fits that description to a T.

We admit it: Here at Coronado Island Film Festival we can’t resist a good psychological thriller when it comes our way, and “Shirley” fits that description to a T. Starring the excellent Elizabeth Moss, (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”), as famed horror author Shirley Jackson, (“The Lottery,” “The Haunting of Hill House”), the film won the prestigious Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking at Sundance this past year and was due to hit theaters in June until it was stalled by the coronavirus (along with so much else).

The good news is that NEON, the studio that brought us last year’s Best Picture winner “Parasite,” has entered into partnerships with well respected film festivals to make this and other films available digitally to support them at this time. For a small rental fee, which CIFF splits with NEON, you can experience “Shirley” in all its thrilling weirdness and wonder. To support us in this way (thank you! thank you! thank you!), simply visit our website and click on the link. The rest is easy.

The loosely biographical film, directed by Josephine Decker, will immediately call to mind the 1966 “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf,” directed by Mike Nichols and starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (set in academia, visiting young innocent couple systematically sucked in and menaced by older, established couple), but Decker, Moss, and cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grovlen take it, and us, a step further and deeper by blurring the lines of reality and fantasy as the film delves into hallucinogenic psychology, which we viewers willingly succumb to; we can’t help ourselves.

This film is not for the kids (rated R) but we guarantee the grownups a memorable evening’s entertainment. You can also “gift” a screening for a virtual movie night with friends. We suggest you follow it up with a Zoom Happy Hour- you may want a drink post-viewing. “Shirley” is a movie you will definitely want to talk about afterwards! We’ll be hearing lots more about it as awards season approaches.

Elizabeth Moss is nothing short of astonishing as Shirley Jackson, the reclusive author holed up in her creepy house working on her next novel and using her own madness as her primary writing tool. Her husband, the literary critic and college professor Stanley Edgar Hyman, is a pedantic, philandering prig with a merciless mean streak, maddeningly well-played by Michael Stuhlbarg. As a couple, Shirley and Stanley fill boozy afternoons trading barbs with each other and toying with the minds of their naive young house guests, newlyweds Rose and Fred Nemsler (Odessa Young and Logan Lerman).

As summer is now upon us, CIFF is in the process of exploring some great, innovative ways to celebrate our fifth anniversary come Nov. 11-15. We’ll keep you posted as plans develop. Please be a regular visitor to our website – it’s constantly updated with news and new opportunities!

We have been humbled during these past several months to witness this community coming together in support of one another, and we are honored to be part of a city that embraces the Cultural Arts as a vibrant and vital part of the quality of life so unique and treasured in Coronado!

Meantime, we hope this finds you healthy and safe as Coronado “opens up.” Remember, “Masks are cool”…. Just ask any super hero!

Doug St. Denis is the founder and chairman of Coronado Island Film Festival and can be reached at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.