Credit: Half Nelson: Adam Bell

Though relatively young, director Ryan Fleck, 29, and his cowriter Anna Boden, 26, could teach more experienced filmmakers a thing or two about channeling angst into art. Their debut feature, about a crack-addled public school teacher (Ryan Gosling) who develops a unique personal relationship with a student (Shareeka Epps), was born from big, revolutionary themes. ”The seed came out of this frustration with what was going on in the world,” says Fleck. ”Bush and his acts in office. You feel so much rage. How do you stop that?” Apparently, you make a tiny, tender movie — a favorite at this year’s Sundance fest — with a surprisingly subtle performance by Gosling. ”We don’t think of our movie as a political tool,” says Boden, who also produced. ”Well, I mean… It’s too dangerous to take up arms.”

Half Nelson
  • Movie
  • 107 minutes