Mark Milgard's debut film DANDELION, an achingly beautiful story of sudden catastrophe, hard-won redemption and life-changing love, has been winning critical acclaim and fans at festivals across the U.S. and abroad and brought cinematographer Tim Orr an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his breathtaking visuals of an awesome Western landscape. Mysterious, deeply felt and with a sharp poetic edge reminiscent of such American iconoclasts as Terrence Malick, the film provides a fresh take on surviving the teenage wastelands of a troubled world. Composer Rob Williamson sets the story to a hypnotic ambient score and the film features songs from such hot indie artists as Sparklehorse, Cat Power and Doves, among others. Vincent Kartheiser of TV's vampire hit "Angel" and Taryn Manning of "Hustle and Flow" star.
DANDELION comes from the tradition of breakout films that explore the rough, raw underside of American adolescence but takes a 180-degree turn away from anger and hopelessness. Delving into a family tragedy, the film pushes past a series of dark events into the uncommon territory of teenage transcendence. With a bracing honesty, Milgard reveals the emotional reality of a young man figuring out how to face the future with his eyes and heart wide open.
Washington teenager Mason Mullich's (Kartheiser) journey begins with a shocking accident and an extraordinary betrayal. When Mason's father (Arliss Howard), a wrapped-tight grain factoryworker obsessed with running for county council, is involved in a fatal crime, Mason is faced with a wrenching dilemma. Already feeling like the walking dead, dismayed to the point of inertia by the broken-down world around him and uncertain if such a thing as love even exists, Mason takes the devastating fall. But that is just the beginning.
What happens when a father's crimes are literally visited upon his son's soul? In DANDELION, this shattering event sets off a series of unforeseen after-effects inside Mason's world. Fresh out of juvenile prison, Mason emerges into a family and a community rife with unresolved tension. His father's anger and guilt, combined with his mother's (Academy Award nominee Mare Winningham) repression, make for a powder keg atmosphere at home. Among his peers, the blind partying and frustration-fueled bullying of other teenagers keeps Mason at a distance.
But then there is the new girl in town fearless, wild-hearted Danny (Manning). Though she lit a spark with Mason shortly before he went away, now things between them really start to burn. As Mason begins to fall irrevocably in love with Danny's large and open spirit, everything changes. Having wondered for years if he would ever find something that felt real and authentic Mason discovers an empowering answer. Even the rank disapproval of Danny's distrusting mother can't seem to stop their relationship.