January 28, 2022

These days there’s very little we can be sure of: Will this pandemic ever end? Will we ever pay off our student loans? Will we share one bathroom with five roommates for all of eternity? Is there a way out of this? Thankfully, one thing we can be sure of is if NYFA Alum Aubrey Plaza is producing and starring in a film, it’s going to Sundance; and this time around, Aubrey Plaza finds a way out in the neo-noir thriller, Emily the Criminal.

NYFA Alum & “Indie Darling”, Aubrey Plaza, Returns to Sundance.
Aubrey Plaza first ventured into the hyphenate world of actor-producer in 2017, with The Little Hours, a medieval comedy about a young man employed at a covenant; he is introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation but shortly after his arrival the nuns descend upon him. The film premiered at Sundance and Plaza has since built a reputation for herself in the independent film circuit as a talented actor and trusted producer with two other Sundance films: Ingrid Goes West about an unhinged young woman, Ingrid, who moves out west to befriend her social media obsession and Black Bear about a young filmmaker, who in the midst of a creative block, retreats to a lakehouse and manipulates and controls her hosts in an effort to make art.

After Plaza’s previous successes at Sundance, Emily the Criminal had big shoes to fill. And it did not disappoint. The reviews are piling in and Emily the Criminal is already being lauded “a film for it’s time.” The title character, played by Plaza, a former art student, drops out of college because she can’t afford the steep fees. But even after dropping out, Emily is saddled with $70,000 in student loan debt. To pay off her debt, she goes in search of a job but her efforts are thwarted by a stained permanent record. Already labeled a criminal, Emily opts for a credit card scheme and finds herself tangled in the Los Angeles crime scene in this film described by director, John Patton Ford, as “the movie that Jacques Audiard would make if he lived in Los Angeles”.

When asked about Plaza’s ability to switch between actor and producer on set of Emily the Criminal, producer Tyler Davidson replied, “there are stars who are producers and there are stars who are real producers and Aubrey is the latter … obviously she’s got her hands filled as the star of the film but she was completely engaged from a producing level from day one”.

Aubrey Plaza’s passion for independent films is palpable. You need only watch the films she’s worked on to know just how invested she is. Plaza told Entertainment Weekly, “Independent films are the most inspiring kinds of movies, for me, because they’re just about exploring the human condition, always. It’s not about money and it’s not about pandering. There’s something very pure about it to me.”

And it shows; the success of the film is such that all of its screenings at Sundance are sold out.

Emily the Criminal will premiere in theaters on August 12th, 2022.

NYFA congratulates Aubrey Plaza for the success of Emily the Criminal!

Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.