A short and jewel-like
work of cinema

Austin Chronicle

About the Film

QUADRANGLE is an unconventional documentary about two "conventional" couples that swapped partners and lived in a group marriage in the early 1970s. Coming out of the era of free love, and struggling with the monotony of marriage and suburban life, my parents, Deanna and Paul, began swapping partners with another middle class married couple. This four-way affair became a kind of domestic living experiment when the two couples moved into one home, along with their children. While their individual marriages were failing, they found that together they were happy and thought they had discovered an alternative to divorce - a brave new world that would pave the way for how couples would live in the future. Instead it unraveled. Both couples divorced and married their foursome partners, but they could never truly separate because they were bound by the children they shared.

This film examines the story of the group marriage as told by Deanna and Paul in the present. They are forty years older and estranged, looking back in separate interviews that play simultaneously, cut together in split screen to overlap. A simulated conversation takes place as they recount their stories. Paul's archival photos of the group, woven throughout, create a visual link between the story from the past and the characters in the present. Certain themes emerge: How do we grapple with marriage, monogamy, and desire? What happens when you challenge the boundaries of social convention? And what, if anything, did we learn from all that sixties-inspired experimentation?

As Seen On


Press & Awards

Best Documentary Short
SXSW Film Festival 2010
The Independent
"Quadrangle is Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in real time... You won’t take your eyes off the screen. In 20 minutes [editor] Raff and [filmmaker] Grappell assemble the essence of four fragmented lives with intelligence and objectivity."
Honorable Mention Jury Prize
Sundance Film Festival 2010
Anthropology Review
"Suitable for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of sexuality, anthropology of family/marriage, and American studies, as well as general audiences…. Should provoke some lively discussion on these subjects."
The Austin Chronicle
"It's a short and jewellike work of cinema."


Amy Grappell (Director)

Amy Grappell was born in Brooklyn New York. Her most recent film “Quadrangle” premiered at Sundance (2010) winning an honorable mention jury prize, and won both Best Documentary Short and the Wholphin Best Short Film award at SXSW (2010). The film also screened at Rotterdam International Film Festival, True/False, and will be having its New York premiere at New Directors/ New Films (MOMA / Film Society of Lincoln Center). Grappell is currently working on a narrative screenplay based on the group marriage story. “Quadrangle” was initially conceived as a video installation and selected for the national juried art exhibition “New American Talent”-09. Grappell’s documentary “Light From The East” recently had its European premiere in London, aired on PBS (KLRU) and was released theatrically at the Pioneer Theater in New York City.  Grappell also produced, co-wrote, and acted in the indie narrative feature “Shady Grove”, which premiered at SXSW before doing the international film festival circuit. She holds a BFA in film from New York University and is a graduate of the MFA acting program at The North Carolina School of the Arts. She has received grants from: TFPF, Texas Commission for the Arts, Texas Council for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Grappell currently lives and works in Austin as a producer and casting director for film and television.

Aaron Raff (co- producer/ editor)

Aaron is a freelance animator and visual effects artist in New York City. He edited "Quadrangle" when he was a student at The University of Texas at Austin. E-mail: aaronraff@gmail.com


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