Emily Dickinson
via Wikimedia Commons

Madeleine Olnek's Wild Nights with Emily Wins Top Prize at Champs-Elysées Film Festival

July 8, 2017

Film Program alumna Madeleine Olnek '08 took home the top prize at the Champs-Elysées Film Festival in Paris last week for her film Wild Nights with Emily. Olnek collaborated on the film with current Film Program student and Columbia College alumnus Max Rifkind-Barron '18, who served as producer, as well as current film program student Alexandra Peace '18, who was the film's East Coast Line Producer.


Wild Nights With Emily concerns an illicit romance between Emily Dickinson and her brother’s wife, Susan Dickinson. After Emily Dickinson’s death in 1886, her brother and Susan enter into a fierce rivalry to promote the poet’s work.


With the film, Olnek aims “to overturn the popular image of Dickinson as a ‘reclusive spinster’ to show her ‘vivacious, irreverent’ side,” according to Screen Daily.


The film is Olnek’s third feature, after 2011’s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same and 2014’s The Foxy Merkins, both of which played at Sundance, among other festivals.


Wild Nights With Emily received €50,000 in post-production and promotional support from its sponsors: Europa Distribution, the Montreal-based Phi Centre music specialists, Frid and Frid Studios, the Cannes Marche’s Producers Network, and subtitling and post-production specialist Titra Film, a studio specializing in subtitling and post-production.


Film Program adjunct professor Christina Kallas also showed at the festival with The Rainbow Experiment, a film about the investigation into an accident in a high school science lab.


Alumni directors Lauren Wolkstein '10 and Christopher Radcliff '10 also won, taking home the American Independent Jury Prize for their film The Strange Ones. The movie previously won South by Southwest’s special jury award for Breakthrough Performance for James Freedson-Jackson.