Word Up

A puzzling idea sparks a film

IFC Films
Puzzle Editor Will Shortz in Wordplay

Husband-and-wife filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley had never made a feature-length movie. So when their documentary Wordplay sold out at the Sundance Festival before noon on the first day of ticket sales and won over the critics, the pair got much more than expected. “To get this sort of reception at Sundance is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” says Creadon, who grew up in suburban Riverside.

Creadon says he learned everything about filmmaking from his first job-working on a PBS alternative news show called The ’90s that was based in the Wrigley Building. “Studs Terkel always used to say that you have to share some of your own vulnerabilities with the person you’re interviewing if you expect them to share with you,” Creadon says. Ultimately, the aspiring filmmaker moved to California, where he met O’Malley.

In Wordplay, Creadon and O’Malley construct the history of crosswords, show the people behind the puzzles (like New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz), and spend time with famous solvers, including Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton. “The film is not just for crossword puzzle fans,” Creadon says. “It’s about people and about a community. For people who enjoy the puzzle it’s going to be like heaven.”


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