Alumna's novel-turned-film earns Sundance award
A Husker alumna has watched her debut novel go from page to screen to the awards stage.
“The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, the event's top honor, on Jan. 31. The film is based on Emily M. Danforth’s 2012 novel of the same name. She received her doctorate through the creative writing program in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's department of English.
The film, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival Jan. 22 and Danforth was in the audience.
“I loved the movie from the first time I saw it,” Danforth said. “But to be in a 1,200-seat theater watching it with the Sundance audience and hear them laugh at every joke and appreciate the story — I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience like that again.”
The novel is the coming-of-age story of Cameron Post, an adolescent who is realizing she is gay. After her parents died in a car accident, she has to move in with her evangelical aunt. She soon finds herself sent to a gay conversion therapy camp.
When the novel was published, it received positive reviews and caught the attention of director Desiree Akhavan. Akhavan and Danforth had a mutual appreciation for each other’s work and became friends, Danforth said, which made handing over her novel for adaptation a little easier.
“It was a very collaborative process,” Danforth said.
The movie follows the last third of the book’s narrative, Danforth said, so readers of the novel will be surprised by the story.
“Obviously, some substantial changes had to be made to take a 500-page book and turn it into a 90-minute movie, but I love the film,” she said.
No distribution deal has been made for the film, but Danforth expects those details to be forthcoming.
“I’m not a part of that process, but Desi has been keeping me looped in, and I’m learning that finding a distributor for a film is a lot like finding a publisher for a book,” she said. “There are a lot of people that have to convinced."
Currently, Danforth is on sabbatical from teaching at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island, finishing up her second novel, “Side Talks With Girls,” which takes its name from an 1897 advice manual for “proper” young women. She said her education and mentors at Nebraska are large pieces of the successes she’s had.
“I had an incredible experience at Nebraska,” Danforth said. "There are many people at Nebraska I give credit for Cam Post, none more than Timothy Schaffert. He believed in the novel and he’s the reason I met my agent.”
Nebraska’s creative writing program has a sustained tradition of producing top literary world talent. In 2017 alone, more than 36 books were published by alumni of the program.