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Leave No Trace is a 2018 American drama film directed by Debra Granik and written by Granik and Anne Rosellini, based on the novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock.[2] The plot follows a military veteran father with PTSD (Ben Foster) who lives in the forest with his young daughter (Thomasin McKenzie). It premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and was theatrically released by Bleecker Street in the United States, on June 29, 2018. The film received universal critical acclaim, with praise for the performances of Foster and McKenzie, and, after Paddington 2, it is the second-most reviewed film to hold an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDebra Granik
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Debra Granik
  • Anne Rosellini
Based onMy Abandonment
by Peter Rock
Music byDickon Hinchliffe
CinematographyMichael McDonough
Edited byJane Rizzo
Distributed byBleecker Street
Release date
  • January 20, 2018 (2018-01-20) (Sundance)
  • June 29, 2018 (2018-06-29) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$7.6 million[1]



Will, an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD, lives with his 13-year-old daughter, Tom, in a public park in Portland, Oregon. They live in isolation, only entering town occasionally for food and supplies. Will makes their money by selling his VA-issued painkillers to other veterans.

After Tom is spotted in the woods by a jogger, she and Will are arrested and placed in social services. They are given food and a house on a Christmas tree farm in rural Oregon. Will begrudgingly begins work packaging trees, but is bothered by the helicopters used to move them. Tom connects with a boy who is building his own tiny house, and he introduces her to his 4H club.

One morning Will decides to leave. Tom follows reluctantly. They return to their camp in the park, but find it has been destroyed. Will and Tom catch a ride with a trucker to trackless woods. Cold and darkness force them to build a makeshift tent. The next day, they discover a vacant cabin and move in.

Will leaves to find food but does not return. The next morning, Tom discovers him unconscious at the bottom of a hill. She gets help from locals, who take them to their mobile home community. Tom refuses to let Will be taken to a hospital. A local woman calls a friend, a former Army medic and fellow PTSD sufferer, who treats Will's leg and lends him his service dog.

Will and Tom stay in the community while Will’s injuries heal. Tom likes their new home, but eventually Will insists they leave. Tom protests, telling him "the same thing that’s wrong with you isn't wrong with me". They tearfully hug and part ways. Tom returns to the community, and Will returns to the woods.


  • Ben Foster as Will, Tom’s father
  • Thomasin McKenzie as Tom, Will’s daughter
  • Jeff Kober as Mr. Walters, a tree farm owner
  • Dale Dickey as Dale, the leader of the RV park
  • Dana Millican as Jean Bauer, Tom’s social worker
  • Michael Prosser as James, Will's social worker
  • Derek John Drescher as Larry, a man with whom Will exchanges medications for money
  • Isaiah Stone as Isaiah, a person whom Tom befriends



Principal photography took place during the spring of 2017 in Portland, Oregon.[3] Eagle Fern Park in Clackamas County was used for the main forest scenes.[4]


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018.[5][6] Shortly after, Bleecker Street acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[7] It was released on June 29, 2018.[8]


Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 218 reviews, and an average rating of 8.54/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Leave No Trace takes an effectively low-key approach to a potentially sensationalistic story — and further benefits from brilliant work by Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[10]

Film critic Mark Kermode named Leave No Trace his favourite film of 2018.[11]


Top ten listsEdit

Leave No Trace was listed on numerous critics' top ten lists for 2018, among them:[12]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Gotham Awards November 26, 2018 Best Actor Ben Foster Nominated [13]
Breakthrough Actor Thomasin McKenzie Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society December 3, 2018 Best Supporting Actress Thomasin McKenzie Nominated [14]
National Board of Review January 8, 2019 Breakthrough Performance Thomasin McKenzie Won [15]
Top Ten Independent Films Leave No Trace Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association December 9, 2018 Best Director Debra Granik Won [16]
Best Actor Ben Foster Runner-up
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 13, 2019 Best Young Performer Thomasin McKenzie Nominated [17]
Satellite Awards February 17, 2019 Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama Ben Foster Nominated [18]
Best Adapted Screenplay Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini Nominated
Best Independent Film Leave No Trace Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards February 23, 2019 Best Feature Anne Harrison, Linda Reisman and Anne Rosellini Nominated [19]
Best Director Debra Granik Nominated
Best Supporting Female Thomasin McKenzie Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society December 10, 2018 Best Picture Leave No Trace Won [20]
Breakthrough Artist Thomasin McKenzie Won
Best Director Debra Granik Won
USC Scripter Award February 9, 2019 Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini and Peter Rock Won [21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Leave No Trace (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Busch, Anita (February 22, 2017). "'My Abandonment' From 'Winter's Bone' Director Lands Financing From Bron, First Look". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  3. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (January 22, 2018). "Movies with Oregon roots get Sundance Film Festival buzzing". OregonLive. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  4. ^ Mohan, Marc (June 20, 2018). "Story of father and girl found living in Forest Park is now a movie". OregonLive. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  6. ^ "Leave No Trace". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  7. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 27, 2018). "Debra Granik's 'Leave No Trace' Lands At Bleecker Street – Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Busch, Anita (April 26, 2018). "'Leave No Trace' From 'Winter's Bone' Director Debra Granik Bows First Trailer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  9. ^ "Leave No Trace (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  10. ^ "Leave No Trace Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Kermode, Mark (December 30, 2018). "Mark Kermode's best films of 2018". The Guardian. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "Best of 2018: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  13. ^ Sharf, Zach (October 18, 2018). "2018 Gotham Awards Nominations: 'The Favourite' and 'First Reformed' Lead the Pack". IndieWire. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  14. ^ DFCS (November 30, 2018). "The 2018 Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Nominations". Detroit Film Critics Society. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  15. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 27, 2018). "'Green Book' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  16. ^ Sharf, Zack (December 9, 2018). "LAFCA 2018 Winners: 'Roma' Takes Best Picture, Debra Granik Named Best Director". IndieWire. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  17. ^ Hammond, Pete (December 10, 2018). "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'The Favourite' Tops With 14, 'Black Panther' A Marvel, 'First Man' Rebounds; 'The Americans' Leads TV Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  18. ^ "2018 Awards Nominees". International Press Academy. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  19. ^ Erbland, Kate (November 16, 2018). "2019 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees: 'Eighth Grade' & 'We the Animals' Lead". IndieWire. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  20. ^ "2018 San Diego Film Critics Society Award Winners". San Diego Film Critics Society. December 10, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  21. ^ McNary, Dave (February 9, 2019). "'Leave No Trace,' 'A Very English Scandal' Win USC Scripter Awards". Variety. Retrieved March 25, 2019.

External linksEdit