Black Box (2013 film)

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Black Box
Directed byStephen Cone
Produced byKeith Cardoza
Stephen Cone
Sarah Horton
Laura Klein
Written byStephen Cone
StarringJosephine Decker
Austin Pendleton
Music byHeather McIntosh
CinematographyStephanie Dufford
Edited byStephen Cone
Release date
August 25, 2013 (U.S.)
CountryUnited States

Black Box is a 2013 drama film written and directed by Stephen Cone and starring Josephine Decker and Austin Pendleton.


A theatre graduate student directs a group of undergraduates in an adaptation of a 1980s young adult novel that changes all of them.


  • Josephine Decker as Holly
  • Austin Pendleton as William Peters
  • Jaclyn Hennell as Madeline
  • Alex Weisman as Adam
  • Nick Vidal as Brandon
  • Dennis Grimes as Eddie
  • Elaine Ivy Harris as Terra
  • Matt Holzfeind as Jarrett
  • Maggie Suma as Amy
  • Hanna Dworkin as Pamela


Black Box was filmed on location in Illinois, with exteriors shot around Illinois State University in Normal and interiors shot in black box theater space at the Viaduct theater.[1] Cone has stated that elements of the plot were inspired by the 1987 film adaptation of V. C. Andrews's Flowers in the Attic.[1]


Black Box first premiered at the 15th Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham, Alabama on August 25, 2013.[2] The film had a limited film festival run, playing at the Cucalorus Film Festival, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, and the LGBT Reeling Film Festival, where Black Box made its Chicago premiere in November, 2013.[1]


Though a critics' poll by Indiewire named it the seventh best film of 2013 to remain undistributed,[3] Black Box was eventually picked up by Devolver Digital Films for a cable/VOD release in late 2014.


Despite a limited release, Black Box received a very positive response from critics. Newcity's Ray Pride called the film "ambitious" and praised Pendleton's performances as "ever-fascinating."[4] Paul Bower of the online magazine Tiny Mix Tapes further lauded the film, saying "Preparing a play, rehearsing and fleshing out the writing, forces its participants to get super vulnerable (if it’s done right, anyway) and face things about themselves in front of a group of other people that can cause all sorts of embarrassment if done in a hostile environment. The great thing about Stephen Cone’s Black Box is that it understands this terrifying thing about doing theater to such a devastating extent that the film can, rightly, become hard to watch at times."[5] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 3½ out of 4 stars, calling it "a worthy follow-up to Cone's previous film" and adding, "I hope Cone keeps writing and making movies because he has what a lot of other writer-directors do not: an interest in character; a facility for drawing fine, subdued on-camera work from stage performers; and a knack for pulling together a variety of sympathetic characters at a crucial point in their collective lives."[6]


  1. ^ a b c Metz, Nina (November 7, 2013). "Reeling, Chicago's gay and lesbian film festival, is back". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  2. ^ "Sidewalk Film Fest: Black Box". Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. August 25, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  3. ^ Tully, Michael (2013). "Indiewire 2013 Year-End Critics Poll Ballots: Best Undistributed Film". Indiewire. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Pride, Ray (May 28, 2014). "Review: Black Box". Newcity. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  5. ^ Bower, Paul (August 31, 2013). "'Black Box' Film Review". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  6. ^ Phillips, Michael (May 29, 2014). "Review: 'Black Box'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 2, 2014.

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