Dallas native Cooper Raiff burst onto the scene in 2020 with his debut feature film, S---house, a semi-autobiographical account of first-year college gloom he wrote, directed and starred in. A 20-something graduate of the Greenhill School, Raiff pitched an early version of the movie to filmmaker Jay Duplass on Twitter. Duplass not only liked it, he joined the project, helping develop the final version, which won the top prize in its category at South by Southwest.
This month, Raiff is heading to the Sundance Film Festival with his next effort, Cha Cha Real Smooth. In another portrait of early adulthood, he plays an aimless college grad with a niche but unenviable job: bar mitzvah hype man. He gets people moving at parties where the main demographic is in middle school. Raiff wrote and directed again. Dakota Johnson stars alongside him in the drama. Its title? A nod to the quintessential PG-13 party song, DJ Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide.”
The Sundance festival recently announced that it was canceling in-person events in Park City, Utah, and shifting to an entirely virtual edition because of the latest coronavirus surge. Last year’s Sundance was also held virtually because of the pandemic.
The festival is scheduled to start Jan. 20.