40-Year-Old Version, The: Radha Blank’s Personal Indie (Sundance Film Fest 2020)

First-time feature director Radha Blank shot her indie, The 40-Year-Old Version, in 21 days in New York on black-and-white film, using largely handheld cinematography.

he 40-Year-Old Version
The 40 Year Old Version.jpeg

Official poster

“I was raised by a cinephile, so I saw films like ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ ‘The Lost Weekend’—you name it,” the native New Yorker said at the film’s world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Fest.

“I wanted to do something in a way to retrofit this story and film into this canon of films, because I feel this film should have been told 30 or 40 years ago.”

Blank has worked as a writer on shows like Empire and She’s Gotta Have It.  In the film she plays a semi-fictionalized version of herself. Her character is now pushing 40 and struggling hard to keep her career alive, living alone in a tiny studio in Harlem.

When she’s not teaching theatre at a local high school to make ends meet, she’s dealing with an industry that pigeonholes artists of color into making what Radha terms “poverty porn.”


Directed, written by Radha Blank
Produced by Lena Waithe, Jordan Fudge, Radha Blank, Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jennifer Semler, Rishi Rajani

Music by Guy C. Routte
Cinematography Eric Branco
Edited by Robert Grigsby Wilson

Production companies: New Slate Ventures, Hillman Grad Productions, Endeavor Content,

Distributed by Netflix

Release date: January 25, 2020 (Sundance); October 9, 2020 (US)

Running time: 129 minutes