ISSUE 723: Sundance 2021, here I come!

Updated: Jun 3


The Sundance Film Festival is hosted annually in Park City, Utah but the on-going pandemic said, “oh, hell nah” to that this year. Instead, Sundance is trading in glitz and glamour for comfort and cozy, making it MY type of party.


In the 40-year history of the largest independent film festival in America, this will be the first time that the Sundance shorts, series, and feature films will be showcased directly to viewer’s homes. I asked myself, “who wants to dress for a red carpet when you can just wear red flannel pajamas in the crib?”

This will be my first time ever attending Sundance and I’m elated that I’ll be able to do it wearing my silk headscarf and robe.


As an eager attendee, I’ve done my research on Sundance’s catalog of films, and I must say, there are a lot of promising motion pictures in the animation category.


Below you’ll find the animated films I’ve added to my digital viewing schedule and what makes me think they’re worth your time to check out.


Please note that the Short Film and Indie Series programs listed below will be available on-demand for the full length of the festival via the Sundance digital platform.


LITTLE MISS FATE

Genre: Animation, Comedy

Country: Switzerland

Type: Short

Run Time: 8 minutes

Synopsis:


"When the opportunity arises, Little Miss Fate slips into the role of the world leader. She unintentionally creates a monster that greedily wants to suck up all the love of the world. Overwhelmed by the rapid development, she loses control."

Cinephile pro tip, when you’re not sure what to watch, pick a thumbnail that looks the most interesting to you. That’s why I made the decision to do more research on Little Miss Fate. I love that the character on the thumbnail is black, and yes I am aware that she’s a bird and what I’m seeing is fur and not skin. I love her precious yellow pigtail, I love her retro cassette player, and I especially love the fact that she looks like a custodian. I haven’t seen the film yet, but my mind is already beginning to imagine, and that’s what good animation does.

In addition to being intrigued by the thumbnail, I really enjoyed learning about the film from the director Joder von Rotz. According to Rotz, the film is about “faith and much love” which is what more of the world should be like in my humble opinion. What was especially heartwarming was listening to Rotz speak with such gratefulness and love for the cast and crew that assisted him in bringing this film to life. You can watch the interview here. It’s powerful to me when individuals swap an opportunity to speak of their own accomplishments with words praising and commending others.


Meet the Director

Watch the Little Miss Fate Trailer

More on Little Miss Fate


GHOST DOGS

Genre: Animation, Comedy

Country: United States

Type: Short

Run Time: 11 minutes

Synopsis:

"A family's new rescue pup is terrorized by deceased pets in this mind-bending horror."


A rescue dog is adopted by a family that is haunted by ghost pets? I have so many questions, and also I’m already laughing. This film sounds absolutely hilarious and that’s because it’s a dog's worst nightmare. I’m definitely a person who believes that dogs can see spirits. I just never considered the idea that they could see the spirits of dead animals.

Another important question, what did this adoptive family do to living pets that made them ghosts in the afterlife? It sounds like this dog might be in danger for more than one reason. Lastly, I really hope there are cameos from ghostly goldfish. I love the alliteration of that word combo, and ghostly goldfish would be funny to see on screen.


Does this make me a weirdo? Who cares, this movie is going to be weird and that’s why I’m excited to see it.


Meet the Director

Watch the Ghost Dogs Trailer

More on Ghost Dogs


GNT

Genre: Animation, Comedy

Country: Australia

Type: Short

Run Time: 4 minutes

Synopsis:


"Glenn is a woman on an unwholesome mission, but just how far will she go to conquer the clique—and social media at large?"


Unwholesome women? Sign me up, please. Directed by Sara Hirner & Rosemary Vasquez-Brown GNT is about the “contradictions of female friendship through Glynn, Nikki, and Tammy and their dynamic and often antagonistic co-dependency” That sounds like a lot of friendships these days.

Not mine, but some.


What’s cool about this film is that the co-directors seem like pretty great friends themselves. I took some time to enjoy this mini-interview about the film, and the two directors were fun to watch side-by-side. I could feel their friendship and love for one another through my screen.

They continue, “GNT was inspired by real conversations we had with each other and friends. We hope it inspires you to baselessly validate your own vulgar curiosity or at the very least make you giggle” This last quote makes me think that I’m going to see an animated vagina in this short, and I’m looking forward to it.


Meet the Directors

More on GNT


4 FEET HIGH

Genre: Animation, Comedy

Country: Argentina/France

Type: Series

Run Time: 75 minutes

Synopsis:


"This beautiful mix of live-action and animation tells the story of Juana, a spunky 17-year-old in a wheelchair who aims to explore her sexuality but is ashamed of her body. Trying to find her place in a new school, she endures failure, friendship, fear, and politics until she builds her sense of pride."


This film includes live-action, animation, and personal stories centered around the bodies of people with disabilities. Fam, sign me up. As someone who previously worked in the healthcare industry, I want to stress how important it is to have stories about the sexual desires and curiosities of people with disabilities.


If people who are not in wheelchairs can get freaky on camera so should those who are. 4 Feet High’s co-directors María Belén Poncio and Rosario Perazolo Masjoan, are brilliant and powerful when sharing statements about this epic 6-part series.

"For us, filmmaking is an act of resistance. It’s breaking boundaries. Talking about what no one talks about is a political act. Showing bodies that no one shows is a political act”


The film documents the individual life of Juana but the directors want to use Juana’s story to “question what we consider beautiful and erotic about the body.”


The production team for the film placed people with disabilities in front of and behind the camera and utilized exciting VR technology to depict the point of view of someone living in a wheelchair. Resulting in a mesmerizing trailer.


Being that 4 Feet High is a series, it will be available to watch on-demand for the full length of the festival! Once you’ve watched all six episodes you can then engage in four additional episodes that are formatted for virtual reality.

4 Feet High is, “the first cross-platform project participating in both the New Frontier and Indie Series section.” according to Poncio. Using the New Frontier Gallery viewing experience you can access the additional four episodes using VR headsets.




Meet The Directors

Watch the 4 Feet High Trailer

More on 4 Feet High


CRYPTOZOO

Genre: Animation, Comedy

Country: United States

Type: Feature

Run Time: 95 minutes

Screening Date: January 29, 2021 (12:00 PM PST)

Synopsis:


"Cryptids are creatures whose existence is disputed or unsubstantiated. When Amber and Matt get lost in the woods during a sex date, they stumble upon a high-security fence. On the other side, they find a cryptid—a unicorn—that would change their lives.


Military brat Lauren spent her childhood nights in a nightmarish state, until a mythical baku came to eat her dreams, releasing her from nocturnal torment.

Lauren decides to dedicate her life to rescuing and sheltering cryptids from those who seek to exploit them, so she becomes a cryptozookeeper. But when Lauren’s and Amber’s paths cross, Lauren begins to wonder if displaying these rare beasts in confinement is better than enabling these mythical creatures to remain hidden and unknown.


Cryptozoo is a vibrant, wondrous, and fantastical feature animation for adults, taking audiences on a sublime journey toward multispecies justice. With penetrating precision and poetic intelligence, filmmaker/animator Dash Shaw explores the complex relationship between idealism, utopian visions, the call to duty, and the alluring power of controlling dreams."


The synopsis is alluring in and of itself, but what makes this film incredible is the people and work behind it. Cryptozoo has been in production for the last five years and is co-directed by husband and wife duo Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski. “I was initially inspired by thinking about drawing as the first and only way to depict imaginary beings, like early paintings of unicorns, kraken’s, and fauns. These beings only exist in our dreams and the only way they are brought to life is through our hands, through drawing” says Shaw. Dash is the writer/director of the film while his wife Jane works as the animation director. “My wife Jane ran an all women’s Dungeons & Dragons group and I wanted to write something that she would enjoy contributing to. She painted most of the cryptids in the movie”


I think it’s safe to say that Shaw accomplished his goal. If you are in attendance for the screening of this film be sure to stick around for the live Q&A afterward!


Meet The Director

More on Cryptozoo


ONE MORE THING BEFORE I LET YOU GO


I consider it a huge blessing that Sundance is digital this year. Last week, when my elder brother Gerald sent me the program, I was ecstatic. This is the first year I actually feel like Sundance wants me to be there.


I’m eager to introduce myself to foreign films, I’m thrilled to have access to high-quality entertainment, and I’m delighted by the opportunity to make this a social event with my close friends.


“At the heart of all this is a belief in the power of coming together, and the desire to preserve what makes a festival unique -- a collaborative spirit, a collective energy, and a celebration of the art, artists, and ideas that leave us changed,” says Tabitha Jackson, the newly instated Sundance Festival Director.


I couldn’t agree more. Attending Sundance this year isn’t just about having something to do as Winter freezes over the Northern hemisphere. It’s much more than a reason to schedule watch parties and debrief sessions with friends. For me, it’s truly about being exposed to stories that perplex my mind and ignite my body.


Sundance tickets go on sale starting tomorrow, January 7th. You can purchase festival passes, day passes, single film tickets, and more at the official festival website. In addition to watching films, there will be an abundance of supplementary programming, events, and musical performances hosted by sponsors. Definitely be on the lookout for that. If you’re interested in enjoying Sundance in-person, the Institute is providing socially distanced viewing options in 24 cities across the United States including Atlanta, Baltimore, Pasadena, and San Francisco. Learn more here.

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