Deb Shoval’s first feature film AWOL, starring Lola Kirke (Mozart in the Jungle, Mistress America) and Breeda Wool (UnREAL, Mr. Mercedes), premiered in competition at Tribeca in 2016, winning praise from publications including The LA Times, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and Marie Claire. AWOL was sold by ICM and distributed worldwide by The Orchard in 2017. The project received support from The Jerome Foundation, Frameline Completion Fund, Women in Film Finishing Fund, Tribeca Film Institute, IFP Narrative Lab, Film Independent Fast Track, Adrienne Shelly Foundation and US Works in Progress Paris, and was nominated twice for the euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Directors ‘Live the Dream’ grant at the Gotham Awards. AWOL first began as a short film, premiering at Sundance ‘11, winning awards from Kodak, Technicolor and Women in Film and featured in The New York Times.

Shoval has a BA in Sustainable Agriculture, her first true love, and an MFA in Film from Columbia University, where she was a Women in Film Fellow and her work was chosen for Columbia University Faculty Selects. She is an alum of the Berlinale Talent Campus, Film Independent Directing & Producing Labs, IFP Emerging Narrative Lab, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, and the MacDowell Colony. The themes that interest her remain constant as she develops a “house” of film, as Fassbinder called it: land and the landless; diaspora, exile and home; and how human beings transcend apathy.

Synopsis: Lola Kirke shines as Joey, an aimless high school graduate searching for a way out of Pennsylvania coal country. A visit to an Army recruiting office appears to provide a path, but a chance encounter with magnetic Rayna (Breeda Wool), a slyly seductive housewife and mother neglected by her long-haul trucker husband, changes Joey’s trajectory irrevocably. AWOL is a splendid meditation on the boundless possibilities of first love constricted by the trials of poverty.

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Grant Winning Project: AWOL (2017)