Seventeen (1985 film)

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Directed by Joel DeMott
Jeff Kreines
Release date
September 1983
Language English

Seventeen is a documentary film directed by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines. It was awarded the Grand Jury prize at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival.

Critical reception[edit]

Vincent Canby, of The New York Times, called Seventeen "one of the best and most scarifying reports on American life to be seen on a theater screen."[1] In a later piece he added "It's Seventeen that haunts the memory. It has the characters and the language — as well as the vitality and honesty — that are the material of the best fiction. Ferociously provocative."[2]

Michael Sragow, writing in The New Yorker, said: "Working with lightweight camera rigs they developed themselves, Jeff Kreines and Joel DeMott (who, despite the name, is female) approach the subjects of their documentary – working-class teenagers in Muncie, Indiana – man-to-man and woman-to-woman. The immediacy is refreshing, and shocking. As searing as it is rambunctious, this film brings out all the middle-class prejudices against the working class that American movies rarely confront."[3]

Johnny Ray Huston, writing in SF360 and Indiewire, said "One thing is for sure: Seventeen is without a doubt one of the greatest movies, perhaps the greatest, about teenage life (not to mention American life) ever made."[4]

Ira Glass, host of This American Life, said it was "the most amazing reporting on a high school that I had ever seen. It's called 'Seventeen' and it was directed by a couple, a woman named Joel DeMott and a man named Jeff Kreines. It was made in 1983, filmed at Southside High School in Muncie, Indiana. It's just this incredible document. It's so real and just one amazing moment after another."[5]

Seventeen was awarded the Grand Jury prize in the field of documentary at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival, where the jurors were Barbara Kopple, D. A. Pennebaker, and Frederick Wiseman.[6] It also won the Grand Prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Canby, Vincent (February 24, 1985). "Screen: 'Seventeen,' A Documentary". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (February 24, 1985). "Film View; Growing Up Misunderstood in Today's America". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ Sragow, Michael (December 6, 1999). "Seventeen". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 1, 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ Huston, Johnny Ray (August 17, 2006). ""Seventeen" Might be Greatest Movie Ever About Teenagers: 17 Reasons Why". SF360. San Francisco Film Society. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  5. ^ Glass, Ira (May 13, 2000). Ira Glass Commencement Speech (Speech). Retrieved May 1, 2016 – via Berkeley Journalism. 
  6. ^ "1985 Sundance Film Festival – Awards" (PDF) (Press release). Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
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Sundance Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
Succeeded by
Private Conversations