By Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney | Comedy
A woman discovers a recording of her parents' couples therapy session from 30 years earlier.

Maddie is a young woman who discovers a cassette tape recording of her parents’ couples therapy session from 30 years earlier, right before Maddie was born. In these tapes, Maddie hears something that discomfits and hurts her profoundly.

As she and her boyfriend head to the family home for Sunday night dinner, she keeps hearing the secret she discovered in her mind — making for a powderkeg of a family meal.

Written and directed by Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, this witty family dramedy has a veneer of urban sophistication, recalling filmmakers like Whit Stillman and Noah Baumbach. Like other comedies of manners, the storytelling is rich with stylized, often droll dialogue, and is attuned to how conversation reveals character and can prove cataclysmically eventful.

But it also has the beating heart of a family drama, exploring how layers of long-running tension and assumptions can shift with new revelations, sending up emotional earthquakes in the process. The family dynamic is established with sharp, intelligent writing, as quicksilver editing and seemingly casual camerawork capture small moments between the different family members.

Viewers quickly see the family is close-knit, with flourishes of eccentricity and absurdity, including the presence of a “life doula” brought to dinner by Maddie’s sister Fran. The cast of actors — led by Maddie Fischer as Maddie, and including veteran character actors Jay O. Sanders and Maryann Plunkett as her parents –hit these comic moments with clever, sly understatement.

But as Maddie looks at the details of her family home — the pictures of her and her mother when she was a kid, for instance — she can’t help but see them differently. And when she explodes in resentment and hurt, she sets off a contagion of deep emotions and even deeper truths, with the collective ensemble hitting a perfect storm of both difficult emotion and comic outbursts.

Entertaining, relatable and unafraid of unvarnished emotion, “Tapes” seems light on its feet, with its quick rhythms and sharply observant eye for telling and ironic detail. Its wry sense of humor overlays a deeper minefield of hurts, as well as a secret history of pain — layers that are handled with genuine commitment to feeling, but also with a certain nimbleness and eye for irony. Juxtaposing these tones in “Tapes” is a balancing act that touches upon the complexity of family life, gesturing at both the joy and importance of belonging, as well as the price we pay in silence and sometimes sadness to maintain familial equilibrium.

You Might Also Like:


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Into the Silent Sea

By Andrej Landin | Sci-Fi
A Soviet cosmonaut who is stranded in space discovers a voice in the distance.

Infinite ft. George MacKay

By Connor O’Hara | Drama
A terminally-ill man has a plan to 'live on' and gets his friends to help.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.