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The Dirties

Canadian Premiere
  • Canada
  • 2013
  • 83 mins
  • DCP
  • English
Hosted by Director, Co-Writer and Star Matt Johnson

WINNER: Grand Jury Prize, Best Narrative Feature and Spirit of Slamdance Award, Slamdance 2013
Official Selection, Dallas International Film Festival 2013

“Smart… genuinely hilarious… something so fresh, so bizarre and just as sincere as it is unsettling... I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it” - Ben Umstead, TWITCH

“The question shouldn't be ‘Is it too soon after these tragic events?’ but rather ‘Why hasn't a film this insightful and intelligent been made sooner?’" - Debbie Cerda, Austin Film Society’s SLACKERWOOD

"This is the most important film you will see all year. Matt Johnson has mashed-up the found footage film and the faux-documentary genres and crafted the most original, hypnotic, and human movie about a monster-in-the-making you will ever see. Not only is "The Dirties" an astonishingly great first film, it has the stones to deal with some very real subject matter in a mature, important way." - Kevin Smith

Matt (Matt Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) are the most passionate film geeks in their high school. They’re also two of the most picked-upon students. In their own shorthand, they’ve dubbed the bullies in their school “the Dirties”. The two begin working on a class project for their media course that they’re certain will make everyone in school see them in a different light and love them. The production don’t go as planned and the abuse they face escalates in humiliating ways. And then, a new class project comes into focus, one in which they will ditch their plastic guns for the real thing. One that will be shot as a documentary. It will be a film about two bullied Grade 12 students who stop their victimizers dead in their tracks.

The timely, wildfire cause celebre of this year’s Slamdance, THE DIRTIES explodes with an urgency that is positively vibrant. What will surprise many is just how entertaining a film this is, notwithstanding the mortifying severity of its themes. Johnson and Williams are such engaging and funny screen presences they will have you with them from the opening frames, even as the film spirals into darkness. As a filmmaker, Johnson’s instincts are flawless, and he utilizes the verite approach brilliantly as a device honed for maximum intimacy. A sidenote: much of THE DIRTIES was shot without a script, to the extent that several secondary members of the cast weren’t even aware that they were participating in a feature film!

In an age where every week seems to bring us terrible new reports of teen bullying-induced suicides and killing sprees, this is a film destined to provoke the kinds of uncomfortable discussions that we desperately need to be having. Yet THE DIRTIES is not a work of provocation. It’s a sincere and compelling attempt to put real faces on people whose final actions make it virtually impossible for us to see them as anything other than monsters. Bursting with heart, energy, pain and charm, THE DIRTIES is hands-down one of the most insightful and disturbing teen films to come along in ages, an auspicious debut from a riot squad of super young talents whose work we’ll surely be adoring for decades to come.

Fantasia 2013 - The Dirties from Fantasia Film Festival on Vimeo.

— Mitch Davis