Category Archives: Sundance

2022 Sundance Film Festival: Asia returns for in-person festival and events on 25-28 August, 2022

Posted by Larry Gleeson

2022 Sundance Film Festival: Asia Short Film Competition submissions open
Calling for entries from Indonesian filmmakers now until 31 May, 2022

 

Sundance Film Festival: Asia, presented by the Sundance Institute and XRM Media is proud to announce the return of the 2022 edition of the Festival on Thursday 25th – Sunday 28th August, 2022 in Jakarta, Indonesia with support from IDN Media.

The Festival will take place in person and include film screenings and panels catered to Indonesian audiences and additional events to enhance the experience, all to be announced in the summer.

 

Tabitha Jackson, Festival Director of the Sundance Film Festival

“We’re thrilled to be able to continue working with XRM Media to present the Festival in person this year in Jakarta. It is a powerful opportunity to share new independent films we love with engaged audiences in Indonesia,” said Tabitha Jackson, Festival Director of the Sundance Film Festival.

 

William Utomo, Chief Operating Officer, IDN Media, states that “We are very excited to work together to create the in-person festival experience and continue to serve the best interest of movie lovers in Indonesia. We hope that the Sundance platform can continue to push the movie industry forward.”

 

“Beyond our Festival in January, we strive throughout the year to find more emerging filmmakers around the world working in the short film form,” said Mike Plante, Senior Programmer for Short Films. “Last year our short film competition was a fantastic success. We loved the submissions, showcased ten of them in Sundance Asia, and were thrilled to have two of them at our Festival last January. Really excited to see more this year.”

 

To continue the support of Indonesian filmmakers, the Festival will again hold the Sundance Film Festival: Asia Short Film Competition, sponsored by Argo. Filmmakers can submit short films across any genre or theme that have been completed on or after 1 January 2020, with a duration between 3 to 20 minutes. Submissions are now open through 31 May 2022 to Indonesian citizens living domestically or abroad, 18 years or older.

A jury of representatives from the Sundance Institute, IDN Pictures, and Argo will curate a program of short films from among the competition submissions. The jury will also select a Jury Award winner, which will receive a $2000 USD cash prize sponsored by Argo. The jury includes:

    • Kim Yutani, Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival
    • Heidi Zwicker, Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival
    • Mike Plante, Senior Programmer, Short Film, Sundance Film Festival
    • Susanti Dewi, Head of IDN Pictures
    • Amanda Salazar, Head of Programming and Acquisitions, Argo

Official selected shorts will be screened on Argo at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival: Asia in August and offered worldwide digital distribution on the platform post-festival. These films will also be automatically submitted for consideration in the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

 

 

For further information on submission procedures and rules and regulations, please visit the Sundance Asia Film Freeway page:  https://filmfreeway.com/SundanceAsia

 

About Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs which are dedicated to developing new work and take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally, are supported largely through contributed revenue. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discovering original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported projects such as CODA, Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, Time, MInari, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home.

About XRM Media
XRM Media is an award-winning entertainment and media technology company dedicated to supporting, producing, and financing diversity-driven, multicultural content across all mediums with its global partners.  Through unconventional thinking, utilizing our diverse portfolio of investments, and taking risks on projects we believe in–XRM defies conventional expectations in both the traditional and new media space to connect a global audience with resonant and powerful stories.

About IDN Media
IDN Media is the leading media platform company for Millennials and Gen Z in Indonesia, with over 70 million Monthly Active Users (MAU). Our vision is to democratize information and bring positive impacts to the society.

About Argo
Argo is the streaming platform on a mission to change the way you watch, share and discover film. Argo is building a community; connecting filmmakers to audiences, and featuring all genres of short films curated into themed playlists by film festivals, filmmakers, and influencers from around the world.
Argo makes sure that filmmakers get paid! The platform works on a revenue-share basis with a goal to ensure filmmakers have the opportunity to truly showcase their work, while entertaining and inspiring the new wave of independent film..

 

Sundance Film Festival Wrap – Fourth and Final

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival has come and gone leaving in its wake a plethora of films, music, conversation, and virtual space.

Acura continued on as the Official Vehicle and a Presenting Sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival for the 12th consecutive year offering the independent film community and fans gathering virtually for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival a unique experience at AcuraWatchParty.com. Virtual Sundance programming from Acura included important conversations and activations with like-minded entertainment and media partners focusing on supporting diversity in film, along with A-list filmmakers and talent.

Embracing the creative spirit of the Sundance film community, Acura debuted a new four-part anime series, Chiaki’s Journey, during the Festival. Chiaki’s Journey featured a young hero’s quest to overcome multiple challenges on her path toward victory while offering viewers a first look at Acura’s trio of all-new Type S performance models: 2022 TLX Type S sport sedan, 2022 MDX Type S 3-row SUV, and 2022 NSX Type S supercar.

In staying true to form the 2022 emergent Sundance Film Festival theme of ‘Fighting the System” rang true as eloquently stated by Festival Programming Director, Kim Yutani, with art “made against the odds, under challenging circumstances, (with filmmakers) being inventive in how they’re telling their stories, in the way they explore intimacy, just creating films in a way that is imaginative.” during an interview for Vanessa Zimmer’s  ‘Fighting the System’ Emerges as Major Theme in 2022 Lineup.

As the Delta and Omicron variants raged, Sundance bent on implementing updated  COVID protocols over the holidays. At last, with the risk factors too great for the filmgoing populace the well-thought and deeply discerned decision was made to go virtual. Fortunately, Shari Frilot, Chief Curator of New Frontier, and a Harvard grad, stepped up and went where no man had gone before and created a vast virtual entity adeptly called “The Spaceship” where art, film, and multimedia converged and sent the 2022 Sundance Film Festival into the stratosphere allowing for parties, mingling, conversation, and film and artistic viewings.

For those challenged by space and mobility, there is always next year. Yet, even without total access to all The Spaceship amenities, Sundance delivered 82 master feature-length films along with 6 Indie Episodics, and the aforementioned New Frontier (15) works.

Here were some of my top takeaways:

Navalny, Festival Favorite Award, Audience Award: U.S. Documentary Presented by Acura

A still from Navalny, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

In August 2020, a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow made an emergency landing. One of its passengers, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was deathly ill. Taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, doctors confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement.

While recovering, Navalny and his team — already with a large social media following in tow — partnered with the data investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat as well as other international news organizations to investigate his attempted assassination and find proof of the Kremlin’s involvement. In NAVALNY, filmmaker Daniel Roher reveals a courageous and controversial would-be president at the precipice of sacrificing everything in order to bring reform to his homeland. —BT (Sundance.org)

 

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Director Sophie Hyde and Writer Katy Brand’s, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, stars Dame Emma Thompson, as a retired schoolteacher who has yet to experience the joy of sex. Enter Daryl McCormack as the young and debonnaire sex worker, Leo Grande. What starts out as a cold transactional relationship ends up as a deep, warm, caring transactional relationship opening hearts and minds to a retelling of modern love. Picked up by Searchlight Pictures and scheduled to stream exclusively on Hulu. Four stars.

 

Elizabeth Banks appears in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights led by Elizabeth Banks, progressive suburbanite wife, and homemaker, Joy, who discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies. Nagy wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a joyous, optimistic, and forward-looking narrative. Four stars.

 

Emily The Criminal (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Emily The Criminal from Director John Patton Ford addresses the fallout from the collateral damage of a young woman’s college experience and relationship troubles. Aubrey Plaza portrays Emily, a young woman who went to college on student loans, partied, got an education, then received an assault conviction for her role in a relationship fight. Unable to land suitable work with her criminal record, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” in an illegal, underworld enterprise. Fast-paced, this psychological, neo-thriller reverberates an age-old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Highly recommended. A top pick.

 

EMERGENCY

Emergency, the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic, harkens the impact racism can have on life-threatening, real-life situations and its ramifications on human potential. Told through a darkly comedic lens with moments of “throw it all at the kitchen sink” style of comedy. Guaranteed to “shock, enlighten, and infuriate.” From two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (2021’s modern, social media retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,”  R#J), based on his 2018 Sundance short film of the same name. Excellent writing and strong acting. Four stars.

 

To The End (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Director Rachel Lears, whose Lears 2019 Sundance film Knock Down the House followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The film won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. Lears 2022 offering, To The End, is a visionary look behind the scenes of a philosophical movement, social and political, where young people have rejected the cynicism and complacency of a power structure that has failed to meaningfully address the existential threat faced by climate change. Told through the narratives of four instrumental leaders and women of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright. This is more than the Green New Deal. It’s planetary survival. Four stars.

 

Oscar de la Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez appear in La Guerra Civil by Eva Longoria Bastón, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

La Guerra Civil, directed and produced by Eva Longoria Bastón tells the story of two of Mexico’s greatest lightweight modern-era boxers, American-born Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez. More than a boxing story, Longoria Bastón shapes the narrative through the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural lens. What emerges is a very intimate look at both boxers and their impact on the dichotomy of what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Mexican-American. Four stars.

 

The Worst Person In The World (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

The Worst Person in the World directed by Joachim Trier is the third part of his Oslo trilogy. A beautifully made film with a first-time film portrayal for the lead actress, Renate Reinsve. The film is told through Reinsve’s character and is about finding one’s place in the world. In the film’s introduction, Trier referred to the film as a Norwegian romantic comedy told in twelve separate chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. Originally premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (with Renate Reinsve winning Best Actress for her performance).

 

Chiqui (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Chiqui, an indie episodic set in the 1980s was a romp. It’s 1987. Chiqui and Carlos emigrate from Colombia to New Jersey to find a better life for themselves and their unborn son. Upon their arrival, they quickly realize that the American dream is not as easy to achieve as they thought. The cast and crew – simply superb.

 

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. One of the most anticipated films of the festival from acclaimed director, Rory Kennedy. Kennedy’s films are well-researched and provide astute socio-cultural insights. Downfall’s production values were exceptional resulting in a very polished film revealing shifts in cultural norms undoubtedly contributing to the untimely and tragic Max 737 plane crashes. Scheduled for a February 13th Netflix release followed by a theatrical run. A Netflix and Moxie Films Production. Four stars.

 

Chloe Okuno

Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s, multi-layered suspenseful horror, drama, thriller features Maika Monroe as a young, blonde female coping with life in a foreign country. Monroe delivers a highly competent and strong performance. The non-diegetic soundtrack added immensely to the suspense and featured  Max Richter’s “Moment in Paris.” Undeniable Charade and Rear Window Hitchcockian influences Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania. Four stars.

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance.

As the festival inched closer to its end, after nine days, 84 feature films and 59 short films, the juries deliberated and the audience voted. The 26 jury-awarded and six audience-awarded prizes recognized “achievement in global independent storytelling.” Bold, intimate, and culture-shifting stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), Utama (World Cinema Dramatic), and All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary). Audience Awards were presented to Navalny (U.S. Documentary), Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic), Girl Picture (World Cinema Dramatic), The Territory (World Cinema Documentary), Framing Agnes (NEXT), with Navalny winning the Festival Favorite Award.

 

Joana Vicente

“Today’s awards represent the determination of visionary individuals, whose dynamic work will continue to change the culture and create discourse throughout the year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente. “This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared.”

 

Tabitha Jackson

“The 2022 Sundance Film Festival once again met our audience wherever they happened to be,” added Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “Whether you watched from home or one of our seven satellite screens, this year’s Festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it.”

Kim Yutani

“We are so grateful for this year’s jurors who brought their expertise and passion to their decision-making process,” said the Festival’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani, “We congratulate the award winners and we’re so thankful to each and every film in the program that made the 2022 Sundance Film Festival such a huge success.”

The awards announcement marked a key point of the 2022 Festival, where 84 feature-length and 59 short films — selected from 14,849 submissions — were showcased online via the Festival’s online platform; a selection of the program played at 7 Satellite Screen locations across the United States.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival jurors were: Chelsea Barnard, Marielle Heller, and Payman Maadi for U.S. Dramatic Competition; Garrett Bradley, Joan Churchill, and Peter Nicks for U.S. Documentary Competition; Andrew Haigh, Mohamed Hefzy, and La Frances Hui for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Emilie Bujès, Patrick Gaspard, and Dawn Porter for World Cinema Documentary Competition. Joey Soloway was the juror for the NEXT competition section. Penelope Bartlett, Kevin Jerome Everson, and Blackhorse Lowe juried the Short Film Program Competition.

Until next year, I’ll see you at the movies!

Larry Gleeson, left, with Hollywood starlet, Angie Dickinson. (Photo credit: HollywoodGlee)

Sundance Film Capsule – Am I OK? Touching and Heartfelt

Posted by Larry Gleeson


The 2022 Sundance Film Festival premiere, Am I OK?,  marked the directorial debut of married creatives Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynn. The film features Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno as Lucy and Jane, two best friends who are forced to deal with significant change when Jane agrees to accept a major career move necessitating relocation and Lucy confesses her deepest secret: that she loves women and has for a long time.

The viewer is quickly taken into the relationship fold with an intimate and personalized invitation with a mesmerizing bedroom scene between the film’s two lead actors, Johnson and Mizuno. Sharp editing from Kayla Emter and Glen Scantlebury and well-executed cinematography from Cristina Dunlapan allow the scene to unfold in telling ways.

Dakota Johnson, left, and Sonoya Mizuno, explore relationships and friendships in Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allyne’s Am I OK? at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Notaro and Allynne present the friendship in a microcosm revolving around work, friendship, relationships, and sexuality. As Lucy comes to the realization her sexual orientation is not what she thought, she has a falling out with Jane. Jane experiences a surprise in her romantic relationship when she accepts a promotion to open a London office and her partner decides he is not interested in supporting the move. Meanwhile, Lucy finds her identity.

In its most basic essence Am I OK?  explores sexuality and relationship mores between the two 30ish women. Jane, portrayed by Mizuno, is a firmly rooted woman finding success in her career and in her love life. On the other hand, Lucy, portrayed by Johnson, is struggling with her career and in the romance sphere.

Am I OK? is a beautiful story with exquisite character arcs. Johnson and Mizuno turn in highly compelling performances in a well-executed and strongly penned narrative. In addition, the filmmakers add comedic relief with several instances in magnifying character idiosyncrasies.

Warner Bros. and HBO Max have purchased the film.  Expect an HBO MAx premiere in the near future. Until then…..I’ll see you at the movies!

Stay tuned for The Watcher!

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Call Jane

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Elizabeth Banks and Cory Michael Smith appear in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights. Progressive suburbanite wife and homemaker, Joy, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies when the procedure was illegal in most of the U.S. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival Sundance programmed several films about abortion, including the documentary The Janes and the international drama Happening.

 

Elizabeth Banks appears in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

With a talent-laden cast led by Banks and Sigourney Weaver, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nagy made her directorial debut with this film based on the real-life Jane Collective, an underground organization that helped women access abortions before Roe V. Wade. Written by Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi, Call Jane explores the gender and body politics of the time within a positive and non-judgemental lens. Nagy also wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a forward-looking narrative.

 

Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver appear in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Roadside Attractions announced it acquired U.S. rights to the film on February 4, with a planned theatrical release this fall. In addition, Call Jane is a nominee for the Golden Bear, the top prize at the upcoming 2022 Berlin Film Festival, set for February 10th – 20th, 2022. Four stars.

 

Sundance Film Festival 2022 Wrap – Part III

Posted by Larry Gleeson


The Sundance Film Festival has wrapped another successful year of showcasing the very best independent films from across the globe. Festival programmers, who this year painstakingly whittled down 3,762 feature-length submissions to the final 82 selections — not counting Shorts, Midnight, and other film categories; strove to create a balanced slate of films under Festival Programming Director Kim Yutani’s direction, “that were meaningful and inspiring, in addition to being simply entertaining.”

While deals were being made and are being inked,  here are some of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival top selections:

Navalny

Festival Favorite Award

Audience Award: U.S. Documentary Presented by Acura

A still from Navalny, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

In August 2020, a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow made an emergency landing. One of its passengers, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was deathly ill. Taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, doctors confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement.

While recovering, Navalny and his team — already with a large social media following in tow — partnered with the data investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat as well as other international news organizations to investigate his attempted assassination and find proof of the Kremlin’s involvement. In NAVALNY, filmmaker Daniel Roher reveals a courageous and controversial would-be president at the precipice of sacrificing everything in order to bring reform to his homeland. —BT (Sundance.org)

 

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Director Sophie Hyde and Writer Katy Brand’s, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, stars Dame Emma Thompson, as a retired schoolteacher who has yet to experience the joy of sex. Enter Daryl McCormack as the young and debonnaire sex worker, Leo Grande. What starts out as a cold transactional relationship ends up as a deep, warm, caring transactional relationship opening hearts and minds to a retelling of modern love. Picked up by Searchlight Pictures and scheduled to stream exclusively on Hulu. Four stars.

 

Elizabeth Banks appears in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights led by Elizabeth Banks, progressive suburbanite wife, and homemaker, Joy, who discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies. Nagy wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a joyous, optimistic, and forward-looking narrative. Four stars.

 

Emily The Criminal (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Emily The Criminal from Director John Patton Ford addresses the fallout from the collateral damage of a young woman’s college experience and relationship troubles. Aubrey Plaza portrays Emily, a young woman who went to college on student loans, partied, got an education, then received an assault conviction for her role in a relationship fight. Unable to land suitable work with her criminal record, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” in an illegal, underworld enterprise. Fast-paced, this psychological, neo-thriller reverberates an age-old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Highly recommended. A top pick.

 

EMERGENCY

Emergency, the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic, harkens the impact racism can have on life-threatening, real-life situations and its ramifications on human potential. Told through a darkly comedic lens with moments of “throw it all at the kitchen sink” style of comedy. Guaranteed to “shock, enlighten, and infuriate.” From two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (2021’s modern, social media retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,”  R#J), based on his 2018 Sundance short film of the same name. Excellent writing and strong acting. Four stars.

 

To The End (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Director Rachel Lears, whose Lears 2019 Sundance film Knock Down the House followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The film won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. Lears 2022 offering, To The End, is a visionary look behind the scenes of a philosophical movement, social and political, where young people have rejected the cynicism and complacency of a power structure that has failed to meaningfully address the existential threat faced by climate change. Told through the narratives of four instrumental leaders and women of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright. This is more than the Green New Deal. It’s planetary survival. Four stars.

 

Oscar de la Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez appear in La Guerra Civil by Eva Longoria Bastón, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

La Guerra Civil, directed and produced by Eva Longoria Bastón tells the story of two of Mexico’s greatest lightweight modern-era boxers, American-born Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez. More than a boxing story, Longoria Bastón shapes the narrative through the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural lens. What emerges is a very intimate look at both boxers and their impact on the dichotomy of what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Mexican-American. Four stars.

 

The Worst Person In The World (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

The Worst Person in the World directed by Joachim Trier is the third part of his Oslo trilogy. A beautifully made film with a first-time film portrayal for the lead actress, Renate Reinsve. The film is told through Reinsve’s character and is about finding one’s place in the world. In the film’s introduction, Trier referred to the film as a Norwegian romantic comedy told in twelve separate chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. Originally premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (with Renate Reinsve winning Best Actress for her performance).

 

Chiqui (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Chiqui, an indie episodic set in the 1980s was a romp. It’s 1987. Chiqui and Carlos emigrate from Colombia to New Jersey to find a better life for themselves and their unborn son. Upon their arrival, they quickly realize that the American dream is not as easy to achieve as they thought. The cast and crew – simply superb.

 

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. One of the most anticipated films of the festival from acclaimed director, Rory Kennedy. Kennedy’s films are well-researched and provide astute socio-cultural insights. Downfall’s production values were exceptional resulting in a very polished film revealing shifts in cultural norms undoubtedly contributing to the untimely and tragic Max 737 plane crashes. Scheduled for a February 13th Netflix release followed by a theatrical run. A Netflix and Moxie Films Production. Four stars.

 

Chloe Okuno

Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s, multi-layered suspenseful horror, drama, thriller features Maika Monroe as a young, blonde female coping with life in a foreign country. Monroe delivers a highly competent and strong performance. The non-diegetic soundtrack added immensely to the suspense and featured  Max Richter’s “Moment in Paris.” Undeniable Charade and Rear Window Hitchcockian influences Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania. Four stars.

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

 

Sundance Wrap Part II: Pronounced Culture-Shifting Art

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival promised culture-shifting voices and none were more pronounced than Director Sophie Hyde and Writer Katy Brand’s, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, starring Dame Emma Thompson, as a retired schoolteacher who has yet to experience the joy of sex. Enter Daryl McCormack as the young and debonnaire sex worker, Leo Grande. What starts out as a cold transactional relationship ends up as a deep, warm, caring transactional relationship opening hearts and minds to a retelling of modern love. Picked up by Searchlight Pictures and scheduled to stream exclusively on Hulu. Four stars.

Good Luck To You Leo Grande (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

 

Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights led by Elizabeth Banks, progressive suburbanite wife, and homemaker, Joy, who discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies. Nagy wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a joyous, optimistic, and forward-looking narrative. Four stars.

Elizabeth Banks appears in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Emily The Criminal from Director John Patton Ford addresses the fallout from the collateral damage of a young woman’s college experience and relationship troubles. Aubrey Plaza portrays Emily, a young woman who went to college on student loans, partied, got an education, then received an assault conviction for her role in a relationship fight. Unable to land suitable work with her criminal record, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” in an illegal, underworld enterprise. Fast-paced, this psychological, neo-thriller reverberates an age-old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Highly recommended. A top pick.

Emily The Criminal (Photo courtesy of Sundance Film Festival).

 

Emergency, the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic, harkens the impact racism can have on life-threatening, real-life situations and its ramifications on human potential. Told through a darkly comedic lens with moments of “throw it all at the kitchen sink” style of comedy. Guaranteed to “shock, enlighten, and infuriate.” From two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (2021’s modern, social media retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,”  R#J), based on his 2018 Sundance short film of the same name. Excellent writing and strong acting. Four stars.

Emergency (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

Director Rachel Lears, whose Lears 2019 Sundance film Knock Down the House followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The film won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. Lears 2022 offering, To The End, is a visionary look behind the scenes of a philosophical movement, social and political, where young people have rejected the cynicism and complacency of a power structure that has failed to meaningfully address the existential threat faced by climate change. Told through the narratives of four instrumental leaders and women of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright. This is more than the Green New Deal. It’s planetary survival. Four stars.

Sundance Wraps Another Year Virtually – Part I

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Sundance Film Festival has wrapped another successful year of showcasing the very best independent films from across the globe. Festival programmers, who this year painstakingly whittled down 3,762 feature-length submissions to the final 82 selections — not counting Shorts, Midnight, and other film categories; strove to create a balanced slate of films under Festival Programming Director Kim Yutani’s direction, “that were meaningful and inspiring, in addition to being simply entertaining.”

Here were some of my top takeaways:

Oscar de la Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez appear in La Guerra Civil by Eva Longoria Bastón, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

La Guerra Civil, directed and produced by Eva Longoria Bastón tells the story of two of Mexico’s greatest lightweight modern-era boxers, American-born Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez. More than a boxing story, Longoria Bastón shapes the narrative through the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural lens. What emerges is a very intimate look at both boxers and their impact on the dichotomy of what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Mexican-American. Four stars.

 

The Worst Person In The World (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

The Worst Person in the World directed by Joachim Trier is the third part of his Oslo trilogy. A beautifully made film with a first-time film portrayal for the lead actress, Renate Reinsve. The film is told through Reinsve’s character and is about finding one’s place in the world. In the film’s introduction, Trier referred to the film as a Norwegian romantic comedy told in twelve separate chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. Originally premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (with Renate Reinsve winning Best Actress for her performance).

 

Chiqui (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Chiqui, an indie episodic set in the 1980s was a romp. It’s 1987. Chiqui and Carlos emigrate from Colombia to New Jersey to find a better life for themselves and their unborn son. Upon their arrival, they quickly realize that the American dream is not as easy to achieve as they thought. The cast and crew – simply superb.

 

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. One of the most anticipated films of the festival from acclaimed director, Rory Kennedy. Kennedy’s films are well-researched and provide astute socio-cultural insights. Downfall’s production values were exceptional resulting in a very polished film revealing shifts in cultural norms undoubtedly contributing to the untimely and tragic Max 737 plane crashes. Scheduled for a February 13th Netflix release followed by a theatrical run. A Netflix and Moxie Films Production. Four stars.

 

Chloe Okuno

Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s, multi-layered suspenseful horror, drama, thriller features Maika Monroe as a young, blonde female coping with life in a foreign country. Monroe delivers a highly competent and strong performance. The non-diegetic soundtrack added immensely to the suspense and featured  Max Richter’s “Moment in Paris.” Undeniable Charade and Rear Window Hitchcockian influences Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania. Four stars.

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

So many films, so little time….Stay tuned for Part II, III, and IV!

 

 

 

Last Chance To Dance! 2022 Sundance Film Festival Coming To A Close

Posted by Larry Gleeson

2022 Sundance Film Festival Awards Announcement, Satellite Screenings, & Final Day on the New Frontier Spaceship Top Highlights of the Ninth Day of Festival Programming 

PARK CITY, UT (January 29, 2022) – Sundance Film Festival welcomed audiences to its ninth day of screenings and conversations featuring some of the most notable visionaries in independent film, new media, and culture-at-large.

The festival announced the Audience Awards alongside Grand Jury and Special Jury Prizes for films in the U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Dramatic, and World Documentary Competitions, NEXT, and the Short Film program. Winners included Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary), Utama (World Cinema Dramatic), Cha Cha Real Smooth (Audience Award, U.S. Dramatic) and Navalny (Audience Award, U.S. Documentary; Festival Favorite Award). All winners are detailed here. Screenings of the award-winning films will play online all weekend long.

The New Frontier Spaceship also celebrated its last day in orbit with Artist Spotlights and an open discussion hosted by Amelia Winger-Bearskin and Jesse Damiani on NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and the rapid proliferation of decentralized, autonomous organizations (DAOs).

The festival’s Satellite Screens kicked off yesterday as well. From Maryland to California, eight feature films from the 2022 lineup are playing this weekend at seven partner locations around the country where they are celebrating independent film and supporting like-minded arthouse theaters.

Each year, Sundance serves as a cultural launchpad, helping to expand audience horizons through film and the conversations that occur the minute that credits roll. Continuing to foster this spirit of discussion into 2022, Sundance Film Festival programs a series of panels across discipline and topics to keep the conversation going.

 

DAY NINE HIGHLIGHTS

  • 2022 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS
    • U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: Nikyatu Jusu for Nanny
    • U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: Ben Klein and Violet Columbus for The Exiles
    • World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: Alejandro Loayza Grisi for Utama
    • World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: Shaunak Sen for All That Breathes
    • Audience Award: U.S. Documentary: Navalny
    • Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic: Cha Cha Real Smooth
    • Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic: Girl Picture
    • Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary: The Territory
    • Audience Award: NEXT: Framing Agnes
    • Festival Favorite Award: Navalny 
    • Directing Award: U.S. Documentary: Reid Davenport for I Didn’t See You There
    • Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic: Jamie Dack for Palm Trees and Power Lines
    • World Cinema Documentary: Simon Lereng Wilmont for A House Made Of Splinters
    • Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic: Maryna Er Gorbach for KLONDIKE
    • Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic: K.D. Dávila for Emergency
    • Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary: Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput for Fire Of Love
    • U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Uncompromising Artistic Vision: Bradley Rust Gray for blood
    • U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast: John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington, and Michael K Williams for 892
    • U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change: Aftershock
    • U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision: Descendant
    • World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft: The Territory
    • World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Excellence In Verité Filmmaking: Midwives
    • World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Innovative Spirit: Leonor Will Never Die
    • World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting: Teresa Sánchez for Dos Estaciones
    • NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe: Framing Agnes
    • Short Film Grand Jury Prize: The Headhunter’s Daughter
    • Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction: IF I GO WILL THEY MISS ME
    • Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction: Dania Bdeir for Warsha
    • Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction: Samir Karahoda for Displaced
    • Short Film Jury Award: Animation: Joe Hsieh for Night Bus
    • Short Film Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, and Lorre Motta for A wild patience has taken me here
    • Short Film Special Jury Award: Screenwriting: Sara Driver for Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver
    • Previously announced:
      • 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: After Yang
      • Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction: Su Kim for Free Chol Soo Lee
      • Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction: Amanda Marshall God’s Country
      • Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction: Toby Shimin
      • Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction: Dody Dorn
      • Sundance Institute | NHK Award: Hasan Hadi for The President’s Cake
  • NEW FRONTIER ARTIST SPOTLIGHT
    • FLAT EARTH VR
      • Lucas Rizzotto (Lead Artist) shared insight on how the project started as a joke in response to the idea that VR is an “empathy machine,” and asked whether that is still the case when the premise is entirely delusional.
      • Lucas discussed how he actually consulted flat Earthers in designing the experience and learned that ultimately, “flat Earthers are not united by their belief, but by their disbelief.” There is no singular coherent flat Earth theory and everyone has different ideas of what a flat Earth means and looks like.
      • Lucas also expressed concern about VR propaganda, and how XR creators could use their work to spread misinformation and emotionally manipulate and control audiences in showing them a “reality” regardless of whether or not it’s based in truth. He urged XR creators to be mindful of the impact their work could have and how it may be used by others in a way they might not have intended.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

The Festival takes place digitally via our enhanced online platform at Festival.Sundance.org, on the New Frontier Spaceship, a bespoke immersive platform allowing festival-goers to gather virtually, and in-person at seven Satellite Screens venues around the country during the Festival’s second weekend. Additional programming includes a daily talk show (“How to Fest: Daily”), and Satellite Screen conversations as well as partner offerings in the Festival Village.To note, all talks are available online via live stream or posted later on festival.sundance.org to view globally. Sign up for an account at festival.sundance.org to access online. All times are U.S. Mountain Time.

ABOUT SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape.

The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute. 2022 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, WarnerMedia, XRM Media; Sustaining Sponsors – Aflac, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, IMDbPro, Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Shadow and Act, Variety, Vulture. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Visit sundance.org/festival for more.

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS ANNOUNCED!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Top Jury Prizes Go To Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary) and Utama (World Cinema Dramatic)

Navalny (U.S. Documentary) and Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic)
Win Audience Awards Presented by Acura

 

Left to Right Top Row: All That Breathes, Nanny, Utama Middle Row: The Exiles, Cha Cha Real Smooth, Framing Agnes Bottom Row: Navalny, The Territory, Girl Picture. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Park City, UT — After nine days, 84 feature films and 59 short films, the juries have deliberated and the audience has voted, and tonight the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards were announced. The award-winning films will screen online on the Festival platform on Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30. Tickets for all award screening films are available beginning at 5:00 PM MT today.

The 26 jury-awarded and six audience-awarded prizes recognize achievement in global independent storytelling. Bold, intimate, and culture-shifting stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), Utama (World Cinema Dramatic), and All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary). Audience Awards were presented to Navalny (U.S. Documentary), Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic), Girl Picture (World Cinema Dramatic), The Territory (World Cinema Documentary), Framing Agnes (NEXT), with Navalny winning the Festival Favorite Award.

 

Joana Vicente

“Today’s awards represent the determination of visionary individuals, whose dynamic work will continue to change the culture and create discourse throughout the year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente. “This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared.”

 

Tabitha Jackson

“The 2022 Sundance Film Festival once again met our audience wherever they happened to be,” added Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “Whether you watched from home or one of our seven satellite screens, this year’s Festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it.”

Kim Yutani

“We are so grateful for this year’s jurors who brought their expertise and passion to their decision-making process,” said the Festival’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani, “We congratulate the award winners and we’re so thankful to each and every film in the program that made the 2022 Sundance Film Festival such a huge success.”

The awards announcement marks a key point of the 2022 Festival, where 84 feature-length and 59 short films — selected from 14,849 submissions — were showcased online via the Festival’s online platform; a selection of the program will play at 7 Satellite Screen locations across the United States, starting tonight.

This year’s jurors were: Chelsea Barnard, Marielle Heller, and Payman Maadi for U.S. Dramatic Competition; Garrett Bradley, Joan Churchill, and Peter Nicks for U.S. Documentary Competition; Andrew Haigh, Mohamed Hefzy, and La Frances Hui for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Emilie Bujès, Patrick Gaspard, and Dawn Porter for World Cinema Documentary Competition. Joey Soloway was the juror for the NEXT competition section. Penelope Bartlett, Kevin Jerome Everson, and Blackhorse Lowe juried the Short Film Program Competition.

Feature film award winners in previous years include Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), CODA, Flee, Hive, Minari, Boys State, Epicentro, Yalda, A Night for Forgiveness, Clemency, One Child Nation, Honeyland, The Souvenir, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, I don’t feel at home in this world anymore., Weiner, Whiplash, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugarman, The Square, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cartel Land, The Wolf Pack, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dope, Dear White People, The Cove and Man on Wire.

GRAND JURY PRIZES

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Nikyatu Jusu for Nanny / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Nikyatu Jusu, Producers: Nikkia Moulterie, Daniela Taplin Lundberg) — Aisha is an undocumented nanny working for a privileged couple in New York City. As she prepares for the arrival of the son she left behind in Senegal, a violent supernatural presence invades her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together. Cast: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker, Leslie Uggams.

Juror Chelsea Bernard said: “For this Grand Jury Prize we celebrate a movie that flooded us with its compassionate and horrifying portrayal of a mother being separated from her child. This film cannot be contained by any one genre —it’s visually stunning, masterfully acted, impeccably designed from sound to visual effects, and the overall vision, expertly guided by Nikyatu Jusu comes together offering its audience an electrifying experience.”

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Ben Klein and Violet Columbus for The Exiles / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Klein, Violet Columbus, Producers: Maria Chiu, Ben Klein, Violet Columbus) — Documentarian Christine Choy tracks down three exiled dissidents from the Tiananmen Square massacre, in order to find closure on an abandoned film she began shooting with Renee Tajima-Peña in 1989.

Juror Joan Churchill said: “For the Grand Jury Prize, we recognize a film which is totally original, layered, philosophical and non-linear — challenging our understanding of history. For celebrating the power of documentary filmmaking and the responsibility of the filmmaker to examine the truth.”

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Alejandro Loayza Grisi for Utama / Bolivia/Uruguay/France (Director and Screenwriter: Alejandro Loayza Grisi, Producers: Santiago Loayza Grisi, Federico Moreira, Marcos Loayza, Jean-Baptiste Bailly-Maitre) — In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily life for years. When an uncommon long drought threatens their entire way of life, Virginio and his wife Sisa face the dilemma of resisting or being defeated by the environment and time itself. Cast: Jose Calcina, Luisa Quispe, Santos Choque.

Juror Mohamed Hefzy said: “An intimate and tender portrayal of a family struggling to uphold their traditional way of life and finding resilience in the face of loss, this beautifully shot first feature film brings into focus the effect of climate change on the indigenous populations of South America.”

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Shaunak Sen for All That Breathes / India/U.K. (Director and Producer: Shaunak Sen, Producers: Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer) — Against the darkening backdrop of Delhi’s apocalyptic air and escalating violence, two brothers devote their lives to protect one casualty of the turbulent times: the bird known as the Black Kite.

Juror Emilie Bujès said: “This poetic film delivers an urgent political story while constructing a singular and loving portrait of protagonists resisting seemingly inevitable ecological disaster – with humorous touches punctuated by the unsentimental depiction of the animal kingdom. For maintaining its suspenseful tension when portraying the interior struggles of its characters and the contradictions in spirituality and materialism they confront, we present the [World Cinema] Grand Jury Prize to All That Breathes.”

AUDIENCE AWARDS

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was awarded to Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) — Shot as the story unfolded, a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok, Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was awarded to Cha Cha Real Smooth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Cooper Raiff, Producers: Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff) — A directionless college graduate embarks on a relationship with a young mom and her teenage daughter while learning the boundaries of his new bar mitzvah party-starting gig. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Vanessa Burghardt, Evan Assante, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was awarded to Girl Picture / Finland (Director: Alli Haapasalo, Screenwriters: Ilona Ahti, Daniela Hakulinen, Producers: Leila Lyytikäinen, Elina Pohjola) — Mimmi, Emma, and Rönkkö are girls at the cusp of womanhood, trying to draw their own contours. In three consecutive Fridays two of them experience the earth-moving effects of falling in love, while the third goes on a quest to find something she’s never experienced before pleasure. Cast: Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was awarded to The Territory / Brazil/Denmark/United States (Director: Alex Pritz, Producers: Will N. Miller, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Anonymous) — When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was awarded to Framing Agnes / Canada/U.S.A. (Director: Chase Joynt, Producers: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi, Chase Joynt) — After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of transgender actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access.

FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD

Selected by audience votes from the 84 features screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, the Festival Favorite Award was presented to Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) — Shot as the story unfolded, a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok, Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences.

JURY AWARDS FOR DIRECTING, SCREENWRITING & EDITING

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Reid Davenport for I Didn’t See You There / U.S.A. (Director: Reid Davenport, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency.

Juror Peter Nicks said, “In moments ranging from whimsical to hypnotic, this remarkable film demonstrates a singular command of cinematic form to create an immerse and authentic experience. For this captivating tableau that reminds us of the beauty of the unseen, the Directing Award goes to Reid Davenport for I Didn’t See You There.”

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Jamie Dack for Palm Trees and Power Lines / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jamie Dack, Screenwriter: Audrey Findlay, Producers: Leah Chen Baker, Jamie Dack) — Seventeen-year-old Lea spends her summer aimlessly tanning with her best friend, tiptoeing around her fragile mother, and getting stoned with a group of boys from school. This monotony is disrupted by an encounter with Tom, a man twice her age, who promises an alternative to Lea’s unsatisfying adolescent life. Cast: Lily McInerny, Jonathan Tucker, Gretchen Mol.

Juror Marielle Heller said, “Jamie Dack …directs a brave and subtle film that forces us to face something that is happening just under the surface all over the world. She expertly guided two extraordinary lead performances that ground us so deeply in the circumstances that we can’t look away. This is a situation we like to keep at arm’s length but it’s closer and more invasive than we all wish, and this film delicately walks us through how anyone’s desire for love and attention can lead you down a rabbit hole that’s impossible to escape from.”

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to Simon Lereng Wilmont for A House Made Of Splinters / Denmark (Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont, Producer: Monica Hellström) — In Eastern Ukraine, follow the daily life of children and staff in a special kind of home: an institution for children who have been removed from their homes while awaiting court custody decisions. Staff does their best to make the time children have there safe and supportive.

Juror Dawn Porter said, “An astonishing achievement in documentary storytelling. With sensitivity, this filmmaker immerses us in an intimate story obscured by a broad political conflict tearing at the fabric of a country. This pristine and highly emotional film embraces the children’s universe within a harsh reality.”

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to Maryna Er Gorbach for KLONDIKE / Ukraine/Turkey (Director and Screenwriter: Maryna Er Gorbach, Producers: Maryna Er Gorbach, Mehmet Bahadir Er, Sviatoslav BulakovskyI) — The story of a Ukrainian family living on the border of Russia – Ukraine during the start of the war. Irka refuses to leave her house even as the village gets captured by armed forces. Shortly after they find themselves at the center of an air crash catastrophe on July 17, 2014. Cast: Oxana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin, Oleg Scherbina, Oleg Shevchuk, Artur Aramyan, Evgenij Efremov.

Juror Andrew Haigh said: “An exhilarating piece of cinema, meticulously framed, exquisitely blocked, and beautifully performed, this is a film about the choices we make as the world is torn apart.”

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to K.D. Dávila for Emergency / U.S.A. (Director: Carey Williams, Screenwriter: KD Davila, Producers: Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner, John Fischer) — Ready for a night of partying, a group of Black and Latino college students must weigh the pros and cons of calling the police when faced with an unusual emergency. Cast: RJ Cyler, Donald Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Sabrina Carpenter.

Juror Marielle Heller said, “We celebrate KD Davila’s wildly inventive and instantly compelling script for Emergency. From the beginning premise, we are instantly hooked and on the side of our lead characters as they try to navigate an impossible situation with hilarious and gut-wrenching results. By the end of the film, we are entirely invested in the friendship of these young men and have gone along on this funny and witty ride and come out on the other side feeling more connected to each other as human beings. Davila’s script, in Carey Williams’ extremely capable hands, takes us on a wild ride that we will never forget.”

The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput for Fire Of Love / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Dosa, Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa) — Intrepid scientists and lovers Katia & Maurice Krafft died in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: unraveling the mysteries of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. A doomed love triangle between Katia, Maurice, and volcanoes, told through their archival footage.

Juror Peter Nicks said, “For its ability to distill a wealth of immersive archival material into a powerful story of human endeavor and love, the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award goes to Fire of Love.”

SPECIAL JURY AWARDS

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Uncompromising Artistic Vision was presented to Bradley Rust Gray for blood / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Bradley Rust Gray, Producers: David Urrutia, Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim, Elika Portnoy, Alex Orlovsky, Jonathon Komack Martin) — After the death of her husband, a young woman travels to Japan where she finds solace in an old friend. But when comforting turns to affection, she realizes she must give herself permission before she can fall in love again. Cast: Carla Juri, Takashi Ueno, Gustaf Skarsgård, Futaba Okazaki, Issey Ogata.

Juror Payman Maadi said, “For a special jury award for an uncompromising artistic vision we celebrate Bradley Rust Gray for his film blood. Rust gently walks us through an authentic journey of grief that invites us to observe intimate moments of human connection. It is sometimes the small changes that leave a lasting effect on your life. Sometimes to ease your pain and find yourself, you have to leave your comfortable surroundings to find a world that will help you know yourself better.”

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast was presented to John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington, and Michael K Williams for 892 / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Abi Damaris Corbin, Screenwriter: Kwame Kwei-Armah, Producers: Ashley Levinson, Salman Al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Kevin Turen, Mackenzie Fargo) — When Brian Brown-Easley’s disability check fails to materialize from Veterans Affairs, he finds himself on the brink of homelessness and breaking his daughter’s heart. No other options, he walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and says “I’ve got a bomb.“ Cast: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, Selenis Leyva.

Juror Payman Maadi said, “For a special jury prize for an incredible ensemble of actors we celebrate 892: John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington, and the legendary Michael K Williams. These actors represent the best of their craft, bringing their humanity required to tell Lance Corporal Brian Brown-Easley’s heartbreaking story to the screen.”

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change was presented to Aftershock / / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee) — Following the preventable deaths of their partners due to childbirth complications, two bereaved fathers galvanize activists, birth-workers and physicians to reckon with one of the most pressing American crises of our time – the U.S. maternal health crisis.

Juror Garrett Bradley said, “We would like to recognize a film which brings to light an issue both historical and ever-present — which weaves together a critical and lesser-known history alongside the urgency of today.”

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to Descendant / U.S.A. (Director: Margaret Brown, Producers: Essie Chambers, Kyle Martin) — Clotilda, the last known ship carrying enslaved Africans to the United States, arrived in Alabama 40 years after African slave trading became a capital offense. It was promptly burned, and its existence denied. After a century shrouded in secrecy and speculation, descendants of Clotilda’s survivors are reclaiming their story.

Juror Peter Nicks said, “For the Creative Vision – Special Jury Award, we would like to recognize a film which evokes, un-surfaces, and reveals, in a profound direction forward. A character-driven film in pursuit of historical reconciliation, the award goes to “Descendant,” directed by Margret Brown.”

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft was presented to The Territory / Brazil/Denmark/United States (Director: Alex Pritz, Producers: Will N. Miller, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Anonymous) — When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.

Juror Patrick Gaspard said, “A singular achievement of cinematic craft, the film thrills with a soaring score, sound design, skillful editing and cinematography, all in support of a story that is both intimate and epic. It allows contemplation of this existential crisis from multiple perspectives.”

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Excellence In Verité Filmmaking was presented to Midwives / Myanmar (Director: Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing, Producers: Bob Moore, Ulla Lehman, Mila Aung-Thwin, Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing) — Two midwives work side-by-side in a makeshift clinic in Myanmar.

Juror Dawn Porter said, “This revealing film is a reminder of the exquisite power of cinema verité filmmaking. A surprising story of female self-determination in the face of militaristic oppression, directed with a rigor that demonstrates the resilience of filmmaker and subjects alike.”

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Innovative Spirit was presented for Leonor Will Never Die / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Martika Ramirez Escobar, Producers: Monster Jimenez, Mario Cornejo) — Fiction and reality blur when Leonor, a retired filmmaker, falls into a coma after television land on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.

Juror La Frances Hui said, “Switching in-between genres, this film within a film follows an ailing screenwriter who enters her unfinished screenplay of a gangster film to experience and edit her own creation. Constantly shifting in tone, the film is a playful display of the love of cinema. Its innovative and risk-taking spirit is especially commendable.”

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting was presented to Teresa Sánchez for Dos Estaciones / Mexico (Director and Screenwriter: Juan Pablo González, Screenwriters: Ana Isabel Fernández, Ilana Coleman, Producers: Jamie Gonçalves, Ilana Coleman, Bruna Haddad, Makena Buchanan) — In the bucolic hills of Mexico’s Jalisco highlands, iron-willed businesswoman Maria Garcia fights the impending collapse of her tequila factory. Cast: Teresa Sánchez, Tatín Vera, Rafaela Fuentes, Manuel García-Rulfo.

Juror La Frances Hui said: “This performance is a total standout. This actress delivers the complexity of a factory owner bearing the weight of a family business under threat. Her nuanced performance embodies toughness, loneliness, a yearning for love, and an ignitable rage that brings the character fully alive and infinitely fascinating to follow.”

NEXT INNOVATOR AWARD PRESENTED BY ADOBE

The NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe was presented to Chase Joynt for Framing Agnes / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Chase Joynt, Producers: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi, Chase Joynt) — After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of transgender actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access.

Juror Joey Soloway said, “This film simply grabbed me, taking me on a ride, questioning and re-questioning what was “real”. What an inspiring, alive structure this filmmaker pulled off — holding space for his own subjective presence, compelling and brilliant performances, and actual de-centering of coziness, but mostly — reclaiming history and pumping new breath into the outlines of those we never knew.”

SHORT FILM AWARDS PRESENTED BY XRM Media

Jury prizes for short filmmaking were awarded to:

The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to The Headhunter’s Daughter / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan, Producer: Hannah Schierbeek) — Leaving her family behind, Lynn traverses the harrowing roads of the Cordilleran highlands to try her luck in the city as a country singer. Cast: Ammin Acha-ur.

Juror Blackhorse Lowe said, “We were entranced by this poetic and dream-like film, which follows its character’s intimate journey with gorgeous cinematography and direction and acting, capturing a unique sense of place.”

The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was awarded to Walter Thompson-Hernández for IF I GO WILL THEY MISS ME / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Walter Thompson-Hernández, Producer: Stuart McIntyre) — Lil’ Ant is obsessed with Pegasus, the Greek mythological character, since first learning about him at school in Watts, California. He begins to notice imaginary airplane people around his home, and yearns to fly with them. Cast: Anthony Harris Jr.

Juror Blackhorse Lowe said, “We were impressed by the personal vision of this drama, a meditation on the filmmaker’s neighborhood, the need to fly and mythology, with vibrant writing and performances to show us all how to take control of our own world.”

The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction was awarded to Dania Bdeir for Warsha / France/Lebanon (Director and Screenwriter: Dania Bdeir, Producer: Coralie Dias) — A Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut volunteers to cover a shift on one of the most dangerous cranes, where he is able to find his freedom. Cast: Khansa.

Juror Penelope Barlett said, “What first appears to be an everyday story about man’s quotidian existence set against the drudgery of a hazardous workplace transforms into a stunning, joyful journey of self-discovery and self-expression. For its combination of jaw-dropping aerial cinematography with an intense performance by the lead actor, The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction goes to Warsha by Dania Bdeir.”

The Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction was awarded to Samir Karahoda for Displaced / Kosovo (Director and Screenwriter: Samir Karahoda, Producer: Eroll Bilibani) — In postwar Kosovo, driven to keep their beloved sport table tennis alive, two local players wander from one obscure location to another carrying with them their club’s only possession: their tables.

Juror Penelope Barlett said, “Artfully framed and edited, with a droll sensibility that makes it almost feel like a narrative, this subtle, precise observation of a community determined to succeed and excel at their beloved sport, despite a lack of resources, or even a place to gather to play it, speaks powerfully to human resilience.”

The Short Film Jury Award: Animation was awarded to Joe Hsieh for Night Bus / Taiwan (Director and Screenwriter: Joe Hsieh, Producers: Wan Lin Lee, Joe Hsieh, Joe Chan) — On a late-night bus, a panicked scream shatters the night’s calm. A necklace is stolen, followed by a tragic and fatal road accident. The series of intriguing events that follow reveal love, hatred, and vengeance. Cast: Shu Fang Chen, Ming Hsiu Tsai, Yu Fang Lee, Shing Ming Wang, Shang Sing Guo, Pi Li Yeh.

Juror Kevin Jerome Everson said, “With its deft handling of film noir sensibilities, well-rounded storytelling, suspense, and deeply crafted characters this film takes us on a ride figuratively and literally.”

A Short Film Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast was presented to Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, and Lorre Motta for A wild patience has taken me here / Brazil (Director and Screenwriter: Érica Sarmet, Producers: Lívia Perez, Silvia Sobral, Érica Sarmet) — Tired of loneliness, a middle-aged motorcyclist goes to a lesbian party for the first time. There she meets four young queers who share their home and affections. An encounter of generations, a tribute to those who brought us here. Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, Lorre Motta.

Juror Kevin Jerome Everson said, “A film that exercised extreme confidence with its generational group dynamics and an amazing cast that made the story and characters feel natural, exciting and inspirational to live and learn from.”

A Short Film Special Jury Award: Screenwriting was awarded to Sara Driver for Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver / United States (Directors: Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster, Screenwriter: Sara Driver) — In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film, Stranger Than Paradise, hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness and ability to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.

Juror Kevin Jerome Everson said, “With its unique storytelling approach, this historical documentary tells an all-too-familiar story of fighting for independent cinema. For her screenplay and narration, The Short Film Special Jury Award for screenwriting goes to Sara Driver for Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver by Lewie and Noah Kloster.”

EARLIER SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS

The 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to an outstanding feature film about science or technology, was presented to After Yang. The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction went to Su Kim for Free Chol Soo Lee (U.S. Documentary Competition).

The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction went to Amanda Marshall God’s Country (Premieres).

The Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction went to Toby Shimin, and the Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction went to Dody Dorn.

The Sundance Institute | NHK Award went to Hasan Hadi for his film The President’s Cake.

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape.

The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute. 2022 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, WarnerMedia, XRM Media; Sustaining Sponsors – Aflac, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, IMDbPro, Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Shadow and Act, Variety, Vulture. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Festival.Sundance.org

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As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive.

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discovering original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join the Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Jonathan Tucker and Lily McInerny Lead In Jamie Dack’s Cautionary Tale, PALM TREES AND POWER LINES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jamie Zach’s Palm Trees and Power Lines, starring Jonathan Tucker and Lily McInerny made its World Premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival this week. The film is an adaptation of Zach’s 2017 short film of the same title.

 

Lily McInerny, left, and Jonathan Tucker lead in Jamie Zach’s cautionary tale, Palm Trees and Power Lines, a premiere feature at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

What begins with an irascible state of condition for 17-year-old high school, party girl Lea, portrayed by Lily McInerny, ends with a state of affairs no one would want or imagine for their friend or child. Lea seems adrift and writer/director Jamie Dack while not pinpointing what has led Lea to her current state, drops hints. Meanwhile, the mounting, turbulent energy finds a vessel when thirty-four-year-old Tom rescues Lea from a teenage group dine and dash incident. Tom takes an interest in Lea, and Zack represents this with a powerful piece of camera work inside the dining establishment prior to the dine and dash incident.

Lea welcomes Tom’s attention and flattery as her high-school, hook-up boyfriend would rather find ways to condescend. Tom, portrayed by Jonathan Tucker, is a smooth operator. Within a short period of time, he has Lea isolated from her friends and her mother. Lea has no father figure in her life and Tom slithers into the role of father and Prince Charming. While imagining what is going on inside a grooming process is not readily accesible, Zach uses McInerny and Tucker to present a believable version with Tom prostituting Lea.

What unfolds may keep Zach’s work hidden outside the parameters of independent film and the festival circuit. Nevertheless, a well-told, cautionary tale by another fresh, nuanced voice from a writer/director reminiscent of Chloe Zhao and her 2021 Academy Award-winning work, Nomadland.

*This film contains sexual content that some viewers may find disturbing.