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Starlet explores the unlikely friendship between 21 year-old aspiring actress Jane (Dree Hemingway) and elderly widow Sadie (Besedka Johnson) after their worlds collide in California’s San Fernando Valley. Jane spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates and taking care of her chihuahua Starlet, while Sadie passes her days alone, tending to her garden. After a confrontation at a yard sale, Jane finds something unexpected in a relic from Sadie’s past. Her curiosity piqued, she tries to befriend the caustic older woman. Secrets emerge as their relationship grows, revealing that nothing is ever as it seems. Director Sean Baker continues in the naturalistic style of his previous films, the Spirit Award nominated Prince of Broadway and Take Out, capturing the rhythms of everyday life with a rare authenticity. Featuring exceptional debut performances by Dree Hemingway (great granddaughter of Ernest and daughter of Mariel) and 85 year-old Besedka Johnson, who received a Special Jury Recognition at SxSW, Starlet is at once provocative, haunting, unpredictable, and surprisingly sweet.

Reactions, Awards & Festivals

"What stays with you is that there's a genuineness and complexity of their connection."

Walter Addiego

San Francisco Chronicle

"It's a hushed marvel of a movie."

Sean Burns

Philadelpiha Weekly

Critic’s Pick! “A thrillingly, unexpectedly good American movie."

Manohla Dargis

New York Times

"One of the year's most arresting, heartfelt indies."

Robert Abele

Los Angeles Times

"An emphatic, absorbing tale of the old and the beautiful."

Melissa Anderson

Village Voice

"STARLET represents a welcome throwback to the smoggy West Coast character studies of the 1970s."

Scott Tobias


"STARLET is refreshingly unsentimental in its depiction of both youth and age."

Nathan Rabin

AV Club

"A poetic meditation on loneliness and friendship."

Dennis Lim

New York Times

“Dree Hemingway gives a performance of flaky charm, and tender sensitivity.”

Mark Olsen

Los Angeles Times

“Besedka Johnson is equal parts heartbreaking, lovely and inspiring.”

Katie Walsh

The Playlist on Indiewire

Film Independent Spirit Awards 2013 - John Cassavetes Award Nominee

Film Independent Spirit Awards 2013 - Robert Altman Award Recipient

Winner! Locarno International Film Festival 2012 - First Prize Junior Jury

Locarno International Film Festival 2012 Golden Leopard Award Nominee - Sean Baker

Winner! Hamptons International Film Festival 2011 - Breakthrough Performer, Dree Hemingway

Winner! Reykjavik International Film Festival 2011 - Fipresci Critics' Award

Winner! SXSW Film Festival 2011 - Special Jury Prize

Cast & Crew
  • Jane : Dree Hemingway
  • Starlet : Boonee
  • Melissa : Stella Maeve
  • Sadie : Besedka Johnson
  • Mikey : James Ransone
  • Arash : Karren Karagulian
  • Director : Sean Baker
  • Editor : Sean Baker
  • Writers : Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
  • Producers : Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, Kevin Chinoy, Francesca Silvestri, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach
  • Director of Photography : Radium Cheung
Technical Info
  • Production Year : 2012
  • Release Date : November 9, 2012
  • Countries of Production : USA
  • Languages : English
  • Running Time : 103 minutes
  • Screen Ratio : 2.35:1
  • Sound : Dolby
  • Color : Color
  • Rating : Not Rated
DVD/Blu-Ray Special Features

Behind the Scenes documentary

Besedka Johnson Audition tape

Audio Commentary by director Sean Baker

Exclusive cast and crew interviews from the SXSW premiere

Theatrical trailer

English SDH