‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ director Eliza Hittman on new film and its unusual rollout

Sidney Flanigan stars as Autumn in "Never Rarely Sometimes Always," a Focus Features release.
(Focus Features)

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Eliza Hittman premiered her latest movie, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” at January’s Sundance Film Festival. At the time, she never could have predicted that the rollout of her newest film would come at a time when movie theaters would begin to shut down. Within days of its big-screen release, theaters began closing and now Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is available digitally, on video-on-demand.

“It’s been a whirlwind and simultaneously a marathon,” Hittman told entertainment writer Mark Olsen in this week’s episode of “The Reel” podcast. “In coping with the open-endedness of everything that’s happening in our world, I think it’s good that the film is out there. And I think that obviously we’re in a very vulnerable moment not just in terms of the virus but in terms of women’s reproductive rights.”

The movie, a drama focused on reproductive rights and a lack of local support, focuses on a Pennsylvania teenager facing an unintended pregnancy.

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“I hope the film, what it’s about, reaches people. Potentially reaches vulnerable women who can’t get access to birth control and can’t get access to their reproductive rights,” Hittman said.

The movie initially landed an R rating, which Hittman assumed was due to the nature of the content and mature themes. But eventually, with some changes, the movie was rated PG-13. While Hittman tells Olsen she didn’t think much about the rating system while writing the movie, she’s ultimately thankful for the PG-13.

“We were able to change the rating from R to PG-13,” Hittman said. “We’re now able to market and screen the film for younger audiences, which I think is really incredible and beneficial.”

Despite the rollout of her movie not going as planned, Hittman is hopeful that “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” will find its way to broader audiences in due time.

“We’re trying to find alternate ways to continue the dialogue around the film,” she said. “It’s a journey that many women take and are forced to take and would never speak about. So, I do think that the film does open up a conversation.”

Check out other episodes of “The Reel” here.