The High Life will screen online on September 5 at 9:00 PM PST and again on September 6 at 5:30 PST at the 23rd Annual Dances With Film Festival with Sanditz taking part in a Q&A afterward.
Based on real-life events, this TV pilot for The High Life is a snapshot into a long overdue visit home for Evie Gold (Stephanie Sanditz) due to the passing of her aunt from ovarian cancer. Knowing that her aunt Linda was a multi-millionaire, Evie thinks that she’s getting an inheritance and now has a reason to visit her dysfunctional family. She enters back into their laidback lives as the black sheep rock star of the family. To her parents and brother, Evie was always an oddball who couldn’t keep her mind or interest on one steady thing and make a success of it.
While drug abuse and alcoholism aren’t usually a thing to laugh about, but Evie’s recollection of events is quite different than reality in a hilarious way. She tells her parents and brother that life as a restaurant and bar reviewer is just fantastic, she’s on top of the world, but she ruined that career too with her sinful vices, so why not go back to Missouri and get some money? Once the family is gathered for a reading of the will, they learn that Linda found peace and serenity with her cancer diagnosis by becoming a member of a nudist Buddhist community. Her last wish is to have her ashes released at the Buddhist altar of that community, by her family, and they all must do it in the nude together.
Everyone is aghast at the idea and shocked to learn that she was a Buddhist, so along with Evie, they all reluctantly decide to grant Linda’s wish, even Linda’s wheelchair-bound mother. Years of no communication with her family leaves Evie feeling unwelcomed to stay with her parents, so she rides a bike to Linda’s house, drunk, and once she sees the Buddhist altar at Linda’s house, and her hospice bed, she faints and has an inspirational dream of her aunt. After waking up from another blackout and the house in shambles, Evie goes out to numb her pain. A chance encounter with a mysterious guy she attempted to buy drugs from told her in a compassionate way, ‘Don’t you have somewhere to go?’ Yes, her aunt’s naked Buddhist family funeral
She arrives just in time as the entire family is disrobing in front of each other, butt naked, but committed to granting Linda’s final wish. They march through the community towards the altar to the tune of Phil Collins’ ‘Take me Home’. Tired of the walking, the grandmother, Gloria (Sherry Weston) gets a naked piggyback ride on her naked grandson’s back, Billy (Jeremy Glazer). Once they make it to the altar, Evie has a religious epiphany, probably exactly what her aunt Linda wanted her to have. This journey back home was what Evie needed to be true to herself, the words her aunt said to her in the dream.
With this revelation begins what will be a fun and wild ride of a TV series. Brilliantly funny as the ditzy and lost Evie, Stephanie Sanditz wrote, executive produced, and starred in a pilot episode that speaks of hope, second chances, and enlightenment. This Buddhist definitely enjoyed The High Life and anyone who has a wacky family member with a heart of gold will have fun watching this pilot too.
Reviewed By Simone Cromers
- USA, 2019, HD, 30 min
- WRITER: Stephanie Sanditz
- DIRS: Amy French
- PRODS: Shannon E Riggs, Kimberly McCullough, Mary Rohlich, Stephanie Sanditz, Jared Parsons
- CAST: Stephanie Sanditz, Ron Perkins, Linda Purl, Jeremy Glazer Jessie Garcia, Christopher Mychael Watson, Johnny La Vallee, Sherry Weston, and Amy Landecker