2019 SXSW Film: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church, John Bernthal, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Mick Foley, and Yelawolf
CTDFF Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Nilson and Schwartz’s THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON is an adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain. It all begins when Zack (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, escapes from the nursing home where he lives to chase his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. He has one goal in mind: to attend the wrestling school of The Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a small-time outlaw on the run, becomes Zack’s unlikely coach and ally. Together, they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whiskey, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own, to join them on their journey.

Credits roll on a theater screen while four men stand below, with microphones. THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON not only accurately represented disability in film (actor Zack Gottsagen has Down Syndrome, like his character, also named Zack), it also didn’t make it the main focus—in the best way. During the film, Zack tells Tyler he has Down Syndrome, to which Tyler replies, “so what?” Tyler cares more about who Zack is and what he can do, rather than his limitations or seeing his disability first. To me, this was a standout moment in the film because, like Zack, people with disabilities are just trying to live our lives.

While dealing with some heavy themes, this film is laugh-out-loud funny and made me feel like I was right there with Zack and Tyler on their epic trek.

During the Q&A, Zack said he is pursuing a career in acting, so expect to see more greatness from him soon!

More: THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON’s Shia LaBeouf, Zack Gottsagen and Filmmakers Talk Non-Cutesy Authenticity Of SXSW Film

Above: on the right, Tyler Nilson (with mic) and Zack Gottsagen take audience questions.


April 25, 2019, Jennifer Bracy- Development Specialist & CTDFF staff

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