“Wild Nights with Emily”: Q&A with Director Madeleine Olnek


Wild Nights With Emily is the story of Emily Dickinson’s life-long romantic relationship with Susan Gilbert, Emily’s life as a writer, and the comic soap opera that was 1880’s Amherst. This story is an important piece of feminist history, as well as a great way to observe LGBTQ Pride that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Join us for a fun Q&A with director/writer Madeleine Olnek and NYWIFT Board Member Annetta Marion, which originally followed the June 30, 2020 NYWIFT virtual screening of the film. 


About the Film


In the mid-19th century, Emily Dickinson is writing prolifically, baking gingerbread, and enjoying a passionate, lifelong romantic relationship with another woman, her friend and sister-in-law Susan…yes this is the iconic American poet, popularly thought to have been a recluse. Beloved comic Molly Shannon leads in this humorous yet bold reappraisal of Dickinson, informed by her private letters.

While seeking publication of some of the 1,775 poems written during her lifetime, Emily (Shannon) finds herself facing a troupe of male literary gatekeepers too confused by her genius to take her work seriously. Instead her work attracts the attention of an ambitious woman editor, who also sees Emily as a convenient cover for her own role in buttoned-up Amherst’s most bizarre love triangle. A timely critique of how women’s history is rewritten, Wild Nights with Emily remains vibrant, irreverent and tender–a perhaps closer depiction of Emily Dickinson’s real life than anything seen before.

Learn more about the film



Madeleine Olnek is a New York City-based playwright and filmmaker. Her third feature, Wild Nights with Emily (2019) is a dramatic comedy about Emily Dickinson starring Molly Shannon, and premiered at SXSW. It was nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award, and was awarded the Guggenheim. Olnek also directed the Sundance comedies The Foxy Merkins (2013) and Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2011). She recently produced In Conclusion, a series of zoom stand-up comedy shows with Jackie Monahan, that raised money for PPE for NYC hospitals during the pandemic.

Read our NYWIFT blog interview with Madeleine Olnek




Annetta Marion is an award-winning director and Primetime Emmy-nominated showrunner who for the last decade has dedicated her life to the craft of making premium television and cultivating a taste for stories that both entertain and inspire. She has created roughly 70 hours of premium television over the past decade. Her work spans high-end branded content, scripted comedy and drama, true crime series for Investigation Discovery, multi-cam episodes for NBC, and docs-series / specials for OWN, MTV, Netflix and NASA; working with talent like Oprah, Amy Poehler, Nicki Minaj, and Dwayne Johnson to aspiring actors to “real people.”




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