Eighth Grade

Comedy · 

Release Date: January 19, 2018

Status: Released

Running time: 1h 34m

Budget: $2,000,000

Revenue: $13,539,709

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Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school — the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year — before she begins high school.

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Eighth Grade is a 2018 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Bo Burnham. It stars Elsie Fisher as Kayla, a middle school teenager who struggles with anxiety but strives to gain social acceptance from her peers during their final week of eighth grade. To cope, she publishes video blogs as a self-styled motivational advice-giver, though spends much of her time obsessing over social media. This frustrates Kayla's otherwise supportive father (Josh Hamilton), whom she alienates despite his wish to be present in her life as her sole parent.

The film is Burnham's feature-length debut as a writer and director. He began the screenplay in 2014 to reflect on his own anxiety and panic attacks during his career as a comedian. Deciding to convey his experience through Kayla, he also wanted to explore how her generation copes with mental illness, grows up with the presence of social media, navigates sexuality and consent, relates to their parents and develops their sense of self. Burnham aimed for realism, casting actual eighth graders—including lead actress Fisher—who informed his script and directing. For research, he watched vlogs from teenagers on YouTube, where he also discovered Fisher. Independently financed with a $2 million budget, production took place in 2017, in the suburban town of Suffern, New York.

Eighth Grade premiered on January 19, 2018 at Sundance Film Festival. It was later given wide theatrical release in the United States on July 13, 2018 by A24. Instead of appealing the Motion Picture Association of America's R (Restricted) rating of the film, A24 and Burnham arranged free all-ages theatrical screenings in every state to let their young intended audience see it.

Upon release, the film was a critical and commercial success. Burnham's writing, direction and Fisher's performance drew the most praise from critics, while domestic box office sales topped $13.5 million. The filmmakers won many awards and nominations, with Burnham winning both Writers Guild and Directors Guild of America Awards, and Fisher nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress and winning the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor. At year's end, the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute each chose Eighth Grade as one of the top-ten films of 2018, with the former naming Burnham's film as the year's Best Directorial Debut.


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