Christine Chubbuck, Reporter Who Committed Suicide On Air, Subject Of Two Sundance Films
Christine Chubbuck took her own life on air during a live broadcast in the 70s. Forty years later, two films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival explore her story.
Christina Chubbuck Sundance Films
“In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first — an attempted suicide,” said Chubbuck, before raising a pistol behind her right ear and pulling the trigger. Though the tech director for the local Florida network faded to black, the act wasn’t quick enough to spare viewers the footage of Chubbuck’s gruesome, carefully orchestrated death.
British actress Rebecca Hall plays Chubbuck in Christine, a feature film directed by Antonio Campos. Campos comes at Chubbuck’s story from the angle that the ambitious 29-year-old journalist was not only struggling in her personal life – including an ill-advised crush on a coworker – but was also growing increasingly disgusted with the journalistic direction of WZRB.
Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia and J. Smith-Cameron also star in the movie.
The other project based on Chubbuck’s life and death is Robert Greene‘s Kate Plays Christine. Billed as a documentary, the film shows Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards) preparing to play Chubbuck in a “stylized cheap ‘70s soap opera” about her dramatic suicide. Greene’s camera follows Sheil as she heads to Sarasota to learn more about the woman she’ll be inhabiting for the role, and as she delves into her acting process.
Chubbuck’s brother, who has been made aware of both films, has no plans on watching either. Revealing that Chubbuck had emotional and mental health issues since childhood, he believes that the movies won’t necessarily touch on the very real complexities of his late sister.
“Nobody wants to know who Christine Chubbuck was,” Greg Chubbuck told People magazine. “They want to sensationalize what happened at the end of her life. A public suicide is not a source of joy for a family.”
Christine is in competition in the U.S. Dramatic section, while Kate Plays Christine is in competition in the U.S. documentary section of the Sundance Film Festival.