Everyone's talking about Kristen Wiig's new movie AbracaDeborah. There's only one problem: it doesn't exist.
That didn't stop the fake movie from spreading like wildfire amongst Sundance Film Festival attendees; some in on what turned out to be just an elaborate Twitter joke, others genuinely in the belief the film would be premiering there.
The whole shebang was unintentionally initiated by Uproxx's Mike Ryan, who joked on Twitter about the film's existence after boasting he'd spent a good chunk of his festival time watching old episodes of The Partridge Family. Somehow, for some reason, AbracaDeborah suddenly started spreading like wildfire across the social media platform as critic after critic started offering their own feverish, raving reviews of the non-existent film.
@misterpatches Remembrance of a Partridge premieres Monday, right after AbracaDeborah. Both star Kristen Wiig.— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) January 21, 2016
AbracaDeborah: Career best for Kristen Wiig. A statement on human loneliness. Long & well deserved standing ovation. Floored! #Sundance— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) January 27, 2016
AbracaDeborah: Kristen Wiig in the role of a lifetime. James Marden never better. Still processing ... but wow. #sundance— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) January 27, 2016
Never thought a movie about a blind magician would make me cry, but AbracaDeborah is wondrous and Kristen Wiig is revelatory. #Sundance— Ethan Anderton (@Ethan_Anderton) January 27, 2016
ABRACADEBORAH: That last shot makes the ending of ENEMY feel like "Sesame Street." I may not sleep at all tonight. #sundance— Steve Greene (@stevebruin) January 27, 2016
ABRACADEBORAH: As much as I enjoy seeing Kristen Wiig in blackface, I have a lot of problems with this biopic. #sundance— Eric D. Snider (@EricDSnider) January 27, 2016
Things got so out of control that festival-goers started to believe the film was indeed a real movie, leading Sundance organisers to chime in and politely request fans to stop requesting tickets for the film.
Please, please maniacs - stop DM'ing us about whether or not there are tickets available to "AbracaDeborah" https://t.co/XDxZlad5eX— Sundance Fest NOW (@sundancefestnow) January 28, 2016
Sure, its exclusivity left a few not in the know baffled and more than a little disappointed, but the AbracaDeborah hoax is a pretty hilarious dig at the festival's toxic relationship with hype. As Criticwire's Sam Adams points out, the adulatory reviews dreamed up by critics were indeed, "less ridiculous than things some critics have written about actual movies."
Festivals drown in the internet's #hottake culture, as cinephiles and critics rush to espouse the most memorably declarative, controversial views on films. And, considering Sundance is usually guaranteed to churn out a few future Oscar contenders, the rush to declare cinema's next masterpiece can sometimes get a little out of control.
Whiplash, Brooklyn, and Boyhood have all premiered at the festival in the past, and it's Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation which seems to be accumulating the majority of current awards hype.