Approaching a Breakthrough a film by Noah Pritzker. 2007, USA, 10 min. With Kieran Culkin and Mae Whitman. Realism gives way to a strange dreamlike sequence in this short New York comedy.


This week is the online premiere of Approaching a Breakthrough, a short New York comedy directed by New York-based filmmaker Noah Pritzker, starring Kieran Culkin and Mae Whitman. Realism gives way to a strange dreamlike sequence in this selection from the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.



As Norman and his girlfriend storm into Central Park, bickering, Norman is cornered by a string of characters from his past, appearing from all sides of the park — from two of his former therapists to his Mormon ex-girlfriend. Despite his best efforts to run away from his problems, Norman, who has recently returned from LA, can’t seem to escape them.


The film begins very much rooted in the tradition of New York romantic comedies — a couple quarrels in Central Park — but it takes an odd, funny twist as other people from Norman’s life suddenly emerge in the Park, one after another to analyze Norman, as if justifying his girlfriend’s arguments.


“I wanted to make something that felt like a fever dream but happening in a very ordinary place, like the park, and coming out of the blue in the midst of an ordinary argument Norman and his girlfriend are having.” NOAH PRITZKER


The director cites the influence of Woody Allen on his work. In addition to loving the more famous films, Pritzker describes “Oedipus Wrecks” from New York Stories (1989) as a perfect short. He also loves Louis Malle — the intro/outro music in Approaching a Breakthrough is Charlie Parker’s “My Old Flame”, from Murmur of the Heart (1971). He also mentions the Israeli writer Etgar Keret: “He writes these wonderful tragicomic and phantasmagorical short stories that I always loved and think influenced me as a writer. Keret and his wife Shira Geffen directed a film called Jellyfish, which Shira wrote. In addition to the writing, I loved the simplicity and elegance of the camera and production design.”


Noah Pritzker is a filmmaker living in New York City. His debut feature, Quitters, premiered in competition at SXSW in 2015. He is currently casting his upcoming feature Men of Divorce, which follows a man who, after being left by his wife, inadvertently crashes his son’s bachelor party in Mexico.

Credits for
Kieran Culkin & Mae Whitman
written by
Noah Pritzker
produced by
Brendan McHugh & Wyatt Angelo
Andrew Ellmaker
David Massachi
production design
Meredith Lippincott
costume design
Hannah LaCava