Stuck in Staten Island, married to a kind but oblivious husband, and living with kids that mostly ignore her, 40-year-old Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) plods through her days teaching kindergarten with growing numbness. Her one source of joy is an evening poetry class across the bay in Lower Manhattan. But one day everything changes—Lisa discovers that a five-year-old boy in her class may be the poet she can only dream of being. She becomes fascinated. Could this child be a prodigy? A Mozart? Fascination turns to obsession as Lisa pushes boundaries to protect the boy from a banal life she knows too well. In a harrowing climax, Lisa risks her career, her family, and her freedom to nurture his genius and possibly tap into her own.
Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic
Sara Colangelo is a New York–based writer and director. She was invited to Sundance Institute's Writers and Directors Lab during the development of her first feature, "Little Accidents". The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for best first screenplay. "The Kindergarten Teacher" is Colangelo's second feature.