WATCH NOW
on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, and Google Play


WATCH NOW :

"The #1 Film people will be talking about at Sundance".

- L.A. Weekly

"Playfully subversive... rarely have I felt so absorbed..."

- The Village Voice

"A Brilliantly constructed film... a remarkable feat".

- Mike Scott

About

Welcome to the Jejune Institute, a mind-bending San Francisco phenomenon where 10,000 people became "inducted" without ever quite realizing what they'd signed up for. Was it a cult? Was it an elaborate game? Told from the participants’ perspectives, the film looks over the precipice at an emergent new art form where real world and fictional narratives collide, creating unforeseen and often unsettling consequences. Fusing elements of counter-culture, new religious movements and street art, THE INSTITUTE invites viewers down the rabbit hole into a secret underground world teeming just beneath the surface of everyday life.




PEN & BANJO FILMS and NONCHALANCE present “THE INSTITUTE”    
co-produced by URIAH FINDLEY     with GARLAND GLESSNER    CAROLEE GILLIGAN WHEELER   JASON SCHUPP   GORDON MACLACHLAN   JEFF HULL   SARA THACHER   MICHAEL WERTZ   KIYOMI TANOUYE   GEORDIE AITKEN   ARYE MICHAEL BENDER   DANIEL SHOUP   &   DARIN DeSTEFANO     archivist MARK ELLIS     color RUDY LOPEZ     cinematography PAUL ENCINAS     graphics ERIC NEFF     original music ANTHONY CARDENAS     sound BRENDON HARRY     a film by SPENCER McCALL


"To those dark horses
with the spirit to look up and see,
a recondite family awaits".

- Octavio Coleman Esquire

UPCOMING SCREENINGS

February 16-23, Beloit Wisconsin
THE BELOIT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Sun Feb 16,2014 - 12:00 pm — Café Fromage #2
Sat Feb 22, 2014 - 12:00 pm — My Apartment
Sun Feb 23, 2014 - 5:00 pm — Club Impulse

Community Partners: C Haus, UW-Rock’s Altered Reality Club

PAST SCREENINGS

October 18-30, 2013
DOWNTOWN INDEPENDENT, LOS ANGELES
Held over! Extended dates:
Friday, Oct 25th: 3PM
Saturday, Oct 26th: 3PM
Sunday, Oct 27th: 6PM
Tuesday, Oct 29th: 3PM
Wednesday, Oct 30th: 10PM


October 30
AUSTIN FILM SOCIETY, AUSTIN TX

November 8
COPENHAGEN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

November 15-17, 2013
ROXY THEATER, MISSOULA, MT

November 20, 2013
14 PEWS, HOUSTON, TX

December 6-8 2013
GATEWAY FILM CENTER, COLUMBUS, OH

October 18-24, 2013
NORTHWEST FILM FORUM, SEATTLE

10/25, 2013
THE EXPLORATORIUM, SAN FRANCISCO, CA
( Special experiential event by Nonchalance)

10/24 & 10/26, 2013
PICKFORD FILM CENTER, BELLINGHAM WA

10/20, 2013
RAFAEL FILM CENTER, SAN RAFAEL CA
( Q&A with Director Spencer McCall )

10/15 9:00pm
THE ROXIE, SF CA

10/11 – 10/17, 2013
CINEMA VILLAGE, NEW YORK

10/14 - 10/20, 2013
ARCLIGHT CINEMAS - BEACH CITIES, EL SEGUNDO

10/16-10/20, 2013
SANTA FE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, SANTE FE NM

10/17-10/20, 2013
FLYWAY FILM FESTIVAL, PEPIN & STOCKHOLM, WI

10/11 - 10/12, 2013
ARCLIGHT CINEMAS, HOLLYWOOD

OCTOBER 4 - OCTOBER 10 2013
NEW PARKWAY, OAKLAND
( Opening Night Discussion with Jeff Hull )

OCTOBER 4 - OCTOBER 10 2013
ROXIE, SAN FRANCISCO
( Opening Night Discussion with Octavio Coleman Esquire & Director Spencer McCall )

OCTOBER 2 @ 7PM
STANFORD DESIGN SCHOOL ATRIUM, PALO ALTO CA
( + Discussion w/ Jeff Hull )

OCTOBER 4, 2013
INDIECADE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF INDEPENDENT GAMES, LOS ANGELES
( Q&A with Uriah Findley )

9/28, 2013
OAKLAND UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL

9/28 - 10/03, 2013
MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL

9/6, 2013
SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FEST, AUSTRALIA

8/5, 2013
MUSEUM OF DESIGN, ATLANTA

7/17, 2013
UTAH FILM CENTER, SLC

7/1, 2013
TANNERY ARTS CENTER, SANTA CRUZ CA

5/28, 2013
NEW PARKWAY, OAKLAND CA

5/15, 2013
SPACE GALLERY: PORTLAND, MAINE

5/12, 2013
UNITED FILM FESTIVAL – NEW YORK

4/30, 2013
UNITED FILM FESTIVAL – LOS ANGELES

4/26 to 5/2, 2013
CHALMETTE MOVIES, NEW ORLEANS

4/27, 2013
BANTAM THEATRE CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

4/15, 2013
HUB WESTMINSTER – LONDON ENGLAND

4/12 – 4/14, 2013
CHICAGO FILM CRITICS FESTIVAL

4/11 – 4/18, 2013
WISCONSIN FILM FESTIVAL

4/8 & 4/9, 2013
NEW ORLEANS FILM SOCIETY

3/23, 2013
ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL

3/1 & 3/3, 2013
TRUE/FALSE FILM FESTIVAL

1/19 & 1/22, 2013
SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

11/18, 2012
ST. LOUIS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

11/09 & 11/12, 2012
SF INDIE DOCUMENTARY FEST

11/08 & 11/10, 2012
NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

10/11 & 10/14, 2012
MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

Contact

  • Spencer McCall PEN & BANJO FILMS
    (415) 699-7115
    [email protected]

  • NONCHALANCE

    [email protected]


Reviews

Tantalizing semi-doc is not for the literal-minded.

The Hollywood Reporter | by John DeFore

Half put-on and half document of a fantastically elaborate, gamelike art project, Spencer McCall's The Institute takes viewers on a journey that was shared (to greater and lesser extents) by thousands of San Francisco and Oakland residents from 2008 to 2011. Intentionally hard to decipher, the film will frustrate viewers who insist on knowing which interviewees are recounting real experiences and which are perpetuating fictions hatched by the game's creator, Jeff Hull. But mystery is part of the appeal, and the film's special-engagement rollout, currently expanding beyond California, seems likely to carry it to its most receptive, multiplex-averse audiences. Read more

A divisive, shadowy conversation-starter of a movie that’s as much fun to talk and think about as it is to watch.

The Dissolve | by Nathan Rabin

The Institute generates a lot of suspense and intrigue by remaining so willfully, purposefully obtuse that it’s difficult to tell where the game ends and reality begins, or whether the distinction between the two is relevant to the game’s engineers or the filmmakers chronicling it. That can be frustrating, but it’s also exhilarating, depending on viewers’ tolerance for being strung along and manipulated. Read more

Down the Rabbit Hole with Spencer McCall's The Institute.

The Huffington Post | by E. Nina Rothe

It is not often that a film leaves me baffled. Alright, at the risk of sounding a bit full of myself, I think I've actually understood all the films I've ever watched, in one way or another. Until The Institute. Read more

It is playful, but profound. It is fact, and it is fiction. It is unbelievable, but it is thought-provoking.

The Times-Picayune | By Mike Scott, NOLA.com

Director Spencer McCall's film -- one of the growing number of documentaries occupying that "elsewhere" space separating fact and fiction (think "Exit Through the Gift Shop" and "Catfish") -- is a brilliantly constructed film, given that those seeming paradoxes perfectly apply to the subject matter McCall so effectively explores. Read more

Spencer McCall’s bewildering The Institute: Life is elsewhere

The Portland Phoenix | By Nicholas Schroeder, portland.thephoenix.com

Ostensibly, the first feature film by Spencer McCall seeks to provide a portrait of a San Francisco organization called the Jejune Institute, whose mission hovers somewhere between the poles of self-help, performance art, disinformation, and an alternate-reality game. But if this is a portrait, we're not in art class anymore. Over a series of interviews with organizers and "inductees" spliced with raw-seeming candid footage of Jejune activities in full swing, we join together the bare bones of a most mysterious organizational body. Read more

WiFilmFest 2013 Preview: The Institute

Dane101 | by Sean Weitner, dane101.com

Remember on LOST whenever they would find a new Dharma film and thread it into the projector? For some, they were the show’s low point, when a perfectly pleasant soap put on airs. For the rest, they were the high point, weird windows into their not-quite-non sequitur fake history. Read more

Indie Pick of the Week: The Institute (Review)

Something Obvious | somethingobvious.net

Over this past weekend we attended the Atlanta Film Festival. One of the films we saw was a documentary titled “The Institute”. The documentary was filmed by Spencer McCall and tells the story of an alternate reality game revolved around the Jejune Institute in San Francisco. Strange flyers that promoted the institutes scientific breakthroughs were hung throughout San Francisco and invited anyone who was interested to visit the institute’s local headquarters. These inquiring minds were led to a room where they watched a strange introductory video featuring Jejune founder Octavio Coleman, Esq. Were these people being inducted into a cult? At first it seemed as if this was the case, but as we would soon find out it was not.Read more

San Francisco's Baffling Jejune Institute Gets A Documentary

The Awl | By Rick Paulas, theawl.com

The toughest part of writing about San Francisco's Jejune Institute "thing" was trying to describe it, something I attempted to do for this site twice. In a first piece about the citywide game, which was put on by a group called Nonchalance, I went with "[p]art public-art installation, part scavenger hunt, part multimedia experiment, part narrative story." For the follow-up, I added "underground alternate reality game" to the mix. Both summaries missed the mark, partly because of my own inadequacies as a writer, but also a symptom of the project's sprawling originality—it wasn't like anything else out there, and that was part of what made it so fantastic. Thankfully, Spencer McCall went ahead and made The Institute, a 90-minute documentary about the project that neatly encapsulates what made this whole whatever-it-was so wonderful. Read more

Inventive, Complex World of ‘The Institute’

HollywoodChicago.com | By BrianTT, hollywoodchicago.com

“To those dark horses with the spirit to look up and see, a recondite family awaits.” While the Sundance Film Festival goes on all through Park City, a select group of truly independent films is unspooling up on Main Street under the banner of Slamdance. One of the more interesting Slamdance selections this year was the great “The Institute,” a quasi-documentary about an “Alternate Reality Game” that took place in San Francisco from 2008 to 2011. Read more

Slamdance Film Review: The Institute

Slug Magazine | BY John Ford, slugmag.com

Following the storyline of a massive reality game created by Jeff Hull, The Institute searches for the boundary that separates what is real and what is fiction. The game is played throughout the streets of San Francisco—both above and below—described as an "urban playground movement" and as the "ultimate reality game" that wonderfully combines street art and performance theater. As more "inductees" get involved in the search for "Elsewhere," which is more a way of being than a physical place, the game begins to spiral out of the hands of "The Creator," and it becomes clear that this is not a game to some. But the reason for the game's existence might be more intriguing—and more mysterious—than the game itself. Using a combination of interviews and film footage from the creators of the game and from participants, McCall puts together a well-spun story that takes viewers all the way down the rabbit hole. Read more

Slamdance 2013: The Institute

KUER | By Doug Fabrizio, radiowest.kuer.org

A missing girl, a cult-like organization and its guru, a well-meaning public agency no one has ever heard of, and the actual brick-and-mortar cities of the San Francisco Bay Area. These are the ingredients in a reality-bending game profiled in Spencer McCall’s documentary film The Institute, which showed at this year's Slamdance Film Festival. More than 10,000 people played the Games of Nonchalance, but who was behind them and what was the point? Thursday, we’ll journey through the looking glass with McCall to explore a world teeming just beneath the surface of everyday life. Read more

The Institute

Film Threat | By Mark Bell, filmthreat.com

Spencer McCall’s documentary The Institute takes a look at a fantastical alternate reality game that played out around San Francisco from 2008 to 2011. Created by Jeff Hull, the ARG revolved around the Jejune Institute and its fictional chairman, Octavio Coleman, Esq, as it led those who followed the instructions hidden around the city on a journey that recontextualized day-to-day reality into something far more interesting. Read more

The Movies to Know From Sundance — and the Year Ahead

The Village Voice | By Scott Foundas, villagevoice.com

Never to be counted out, the concurrent Slamdance festival—once a nose-thumbing start-up—is now, after 18 years, practically an éminence grise itself, and always good for one or two finds of its own. This year, one of those is Spencer McCall's The Institute, a documentary portrait of the Jejune Institute, an elaborate "alternate reality game" that unfolded on the streets of San Francisco from 2008 to 2011. Read more