Kristen Abate

Cinema Femme presents a LIVE Q&A with
Kristen Abate, co-director and star of the comedy-drama
“Straighten Up and Fly Right”
2:00 PM Central, Thursday, June 9, 2022

“Straighten up and Fly Right” is a comedy-drama that premiered at Slamdance and recently screened at the Chicago Critics Film Festival in May.

Logline: In a funk, Kristen, a physically disabled New York woman, walks dogs for a living but dreams of being  a writer. When her life starts to unravel, she must make a choice to fall apart or straighten up. 

Kristen Abate and Co-Director and Writer Steven Tanenbaum

“Straighten Up and Fly Right is genuinely funny, brutally honest, and hopeful without ever being overly sweet; a great addition to the history of independent cinema by and for the people.”
— Megan Robinson, Film Cred

Written and Directed By 
Kristen Abate and Steven Tanenbaum
Starring Kristen Abate, Steven Tanenbaum, Mehret Marsh, and AJ Sedeno

Synopsis: 20-something New Yorker Kristen (Kristen Abate) lives with a severe case of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an inflammatory disease that affects the spine, leaving her with chronic pain and a lack of mobility. With dreams of becoming a famous (or at least paid) writer, she currently supports herself as a dog walker, though she often has trouble picking up after her canine charges and the neighborhood kids make fun of the way she walks. She is otherwise estranged from the world around her, getting through the day either smoking marijuana or paying her drug dealer for sex. When she gets evicted from her home, fate brings her to a new dog walking client, Steven (Steven Tanenbaum), who also lives with AS. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Steven takes an interest in her writing, draws her out of her loneliness, and helps her get in touch with greater New York’s disabled and artistic communities. Written and directed by its two leads, Tanenbaum himself has AS and was inspired to write the screenplay in response to our former president’s infamous mockery of disabled New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski. The result is a unique and deeply personal film, both unflinching and hopeful, about connection in an isolating age.

Kristen Abate grew up on Cornelia Street in the  West Village and is the 2019 New York Foundation recipient for the Arts NYC Women’s Fund courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. While attending PS3, she started acting and dancing with  the renowned children’s dance and theater company  Loco-motion. There she met award-winning playwright/filmmaker Steven Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum cast her in his multi-media play at the first Fringe NYC festival. Since then, the two have collaborated on  over ten plays and four films. Her first film role was  in Hannah Weyer’s ARRESTING GENA, starring Summer  Phoenix, Sam Rockwell, and Adrian Grenier. In 2017 she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the feature film HOW TO SCORE YOUR LIFE at the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards. She was nominated for the same role at AOFF in California in category with Mira Sorvino. Her short film, SWIPE, was nominated  for Most Original Story at the Blackbird Film Festival and Won Best Editor (Armando Croda). She has a leading role in the 2020 NYFA & MOME NYC Women’s Fund film BLUEBERRY which premiered in 2021. Abate is a college dropout whose work is centered around New York stories/characters and women-driven narratives.

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