Director Lila Neugebauer Makes Trailblazing Move With New Film


This Friday, the psychological drama Causeway comes to Apple TV+. The film will see Jennifer Lawrence’s long-awaited return to indie dramas, and it’s sure to make a big splash. Here’s what we know about the film’s director, Lila Neugebauer.

Lila Neugebauer Got Her Start In Theater

New York City native Lila Neugebauer is making waves for her directorial film debut, Causeway, however, she’s no newbie when it comes to show business. The director made her acting debut at 13 years old when she performed in a school production of Seven Minutes in Heaven, a play written by her fellow student, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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Neugebauer went on to study English at Yale University. While attending the prestigious school, she befriended actress and playwright Zoe Kazan, whom audiences might recognize from films like The Big Sick. However, it was when Neugebauer began her career as a theater director that she really began to shine. She got her start directing student works at Yale’s Playwrights Festival before launching a freelance career in regional theater.

Neugebauer directed several Off-Broadway plays throughout the 2010s before making her Broadway debut directing Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery in 2018. The production was nominated for two Tony Awards. Neugebauer then directed her first TV episode for HBO’s Room 104 in 2018. She also went on to direct episodes for Maid and The Sex Lives of College Girls.

‘Causeway’ Rakes In Glowing Reviews

Causeway premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film follows a soldier’s journey back into normal life after suffering a traumatic brain injury while deployed in Afghanistan. The story promises an in-depth and emotional look at trauma and recovery.

Neugebauer’s direction has been lauded, indicating a promising start to a career in film. She even took home the award for Best First Feature at the Rome Film Festival. So far, the film has garnered an 88 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In an interview with The Daily Northwestern, Neugebauer elaborated on just how different film direction is from theater direction.

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“The processes of filmmaking and theater directing are almost opposite. Philosophically, what they’re up to is also quite different. Theater is the spontaneous invention of an ephemeral, temporary community one night at a time with a live audience. Film is capturing lightning in a bottle and freezing it in time,” she explained. However, not everything was foreign.

“One of the more joyful revelations of the process is how applicable my whole life in the theater felt to the work of filmmaking. In terms of the development of shared language with an actor, the primacy of visual composition, the basic and core storytelling impulse and the project of creating a community — those impulses all felt deeply connected to me and so fairly intuitive,” Neugebauer remarked. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for director Lila Neugebauer.

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