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Your Guide to All the Women-Helmed Projects at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

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Idella Johnson and Hannah Pepper-Cunningham star in Marion Hill’s debut feature, Ma Belle, My Beauty.

By Virginia Yapp

An inventive horror film about a Scottish film censor who begins to unravel when she’s assigned to review a rather disturbing film; a whimsical coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old who is struggling to cope with the death of her mother; a moody tale set in the countryside of France that delves into the complexity of polyamory… These are just a few of the geographically diverse, genre-spanning stories being told at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival by women filmmakers in their first features.

If you’re looking for some documentary fare, you can experience the transformative dance of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in Ailey, or follow chief reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions and emerge as India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women in Writing with Fire, or watch as students at Horizon High School in El Paso train to become police officers and Border Patrol agents in At the Ready.

In the Festival’s New Frontier section—which highlights work by independent artists and creative technologists innovating the art and form of story at the convergence of diverse forms of creative expression—you won’t want to miss women-led projects like Beyond the Breakdown, a world-building browser performance where Festivalgoers engage with an AI + human collaborative team, created by a trio of artists including Women at Sundance Fellows Lauren Lee McCarthy and Grace Lee, Traveling the Interstitium with Octavia Butler, inspired by the ideas of the late great science-fiction writer; 4 Feet High VR, an immersive work that centers around the perspective of a 17-year-old wheelchair user as she navigates her new high school; and Prison X – Chapter 1: The Devil and the Sun, which takes the audience into the dreams and nightmares that inhabit an infamous Bolivian jail.

At the Sundance Institute, it is our year-round mission to amplify the voices of storytellers and audiences across ethnicities, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and geographic regions—work we do in part through our Women at Sundance and Outreach & Inclusion programs. It is also work that is important to our curatorial team: For 2021, 53% of the films in the Festival lineup were directed by women, and 26% of the films were directed by a woman of color. In celebration of these vital voices, see below for a guide to ALL women-directed media showing at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Ed. note: Tickets to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival go on sale on Thursday, January 7—get a head start on planning your Festival experience by creating a free account on our screening platform and favoriting the films on your must-see list. You can click the individual film links below to go to their respective project pages and see when each film is screening during the Festival. Use our “interest tracks” menu on the program guide to get even more specific in your search—filter projects by categories like “female-centered stories,” “first-time features,” “LGBTQ+ stories,” and “BIPOC stories.”


U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

CODA

Director and screenwriter: Siân Heder; producers: Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, Patrick Wachsberger

As a CODA—child of deaf adults—Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin.

MAYDAY

Director and screenwriter: Karen Cinorre; producers: Jonah Disend, Lucas Joaquin, Karen Cinorre, Sam Levy

Ana is transported to a dreamlike and dangerous land where she joins a team of female soldiers engaged in a never-ending war along a rugged coast. Though she finds strength in this exhilarating world, she comes to realize that she’s not the killer they want her to be. Cast: Grace Van Patten, Mia Goth, Havana Rose Liu, Soko, Theodore Pellerin, Juliette Lewis.

PASSING

Director and screenwriter: Rebecca Hall; producers: Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Margot Hand, Rebecca Hall

Two African-American women who can “pass” as white choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York in an exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, obsession and repression. Based on the novella by Nella Larsen. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy.

SUPERIOR

Director: Erin Vassilopoulos; screenwriters: Erin Vassilopoulos, Alessandra Mesa; producers: Benjamin Cohen, Grant Curatola, Patrick Donovan

On the run, Marian returns to her hometown in upstate New York to hide out with her estranged identical twin sister, Vivian. Struggling to put the past behind her, Marian lies about the reason for her return, leaving her sister in the dark until their two worlds begin to collide. Cast: Alessandra Mesa, Ani Mesa, Pico Alexander, Jake Hoffman, Stanley Simons.

TOGETHER TOGETHER

Director and screenwriter: Nikole Beckwith; producers: Anthony Brandonisio, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Tim Headington

When young loner Anna is hired as the surrogate for Matt, a single man in his 40s, the two strangers come to realize this unexpected relationship will quickly challenge their perceptions of connection, boundaries and the particulars of love. Cast: Ed Helms, Patti Harrison, Tig Notaro, Julio Torres, Anna Konkle.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

AILEY

Director: Jamila Wignot; producer: Lauren DeFilippo

Alvin Ailey was a visionary artist who found salvation through dance. Told in his own words and through the creation of a dance inspired by his life, this immersive portrait follows a man who, when confronted by a world that refused to embrace him, determined to build one that would.

AT THE READY

Director: Maisie Crow; producers: Hillary Pierce, Maisie Crow, Abbie Perrault

Home to one of the region’s largest law enforcement education program, students at Horizon High School in El Paso train to become police officers and Border Patrol agents as they discover the realities of their dream jobs may be at odds with the truths and people they hold most dear.

CUSP

Directors: Parker Hill, Isabel Bethencourt; producers: Zachary Luke Kislevitz, Parker Hill, Isabel Bethencourt

In a Texas military town, three teenage girls confront the dark corners of adolescence at the end of a fever dream summer.

RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT

Director: Mariem Pérez Riera, Producers: Brent Miller, Mariem Pérez Riera, Ilia J. Vélez-Dávila

Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become one of a select group who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award. Over a seventy-year career, she has paved the way for Hispanic-American performers by refusing to be pigeonholed into one-dimensional stereotypes.

TRY HARDER!

Director: Debbie Lum; producers: Debbie Lum, Lou Nakasako, Nico Opper

In a universe where cool kids are nerds, the orchestra is world class and being Asian American is the norm, seniors at Lowell High School compete for the top prize: admission to the college of their dreams.

USERS

Director: Natalia Almada; producers: Elizabeth Lodge Stepp, Josh Penn

A mother wonders, will my children love their perfect machines more than they love me, their imperfect mother? She switches on a smart-crib lulling her crying baby to sleep. This perfect mother is everywhere. She watches over us, takes care of us. We listen to her. We trust her.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET

Director: Ana Katz; screenwriters: Ana Katz, Gonzalo Delgado; producers: Laura Huberman, Ana Katz; Argentina

Sebastian, a man in his thirties, works a series of temporary jobs and he embraces love at every opportunity. He transforms, through a series of short encounters, as the world flirts with possible apocalypse. Cast: Daniel Katz, Julieta Zylberberg, Valeria Lois, Mirella Pascual, Carlos Portaluppi.

EL PLANETA

Director and screenwriter: Amalia Ulman; producers: Amalia Ulman, Kathleen Hefferman, Kweku Mandela; USA/Spain

Amidst the devastation of post-crisis Spain, mother and daughter bluff and grift to keep up the lifestyle they think they deserve, bonding over common tragedy and an impending eviction. Cast: Amalia Ulman, Ale Ulman, Nacho Vigalondo, Zhou Chen, Saoirse Bertram.

HIVE

Director and screenwriter: Blerta Basholli; producers: Yll Uka, Valon Bajgora, Agon Uka; Kosovo/Switzerland/Macedonia/Albania

Fahrije’s husband has been missing since the war in Kosovo. She sets up her own small business to provide for her kids, but as she fights against a patriarchal society that does not support her, she faces a crucial decision: to wait for his return, or to continue to persevere. Cast: Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi, Kumrije Hoxha, Adriana Matoshi, Kaona Sylejmani.

THE PINK CLOUD

Director and screenwriter: Iuli Gerbase; producer: Patricia Barbieri; Brazil

A mysterious and deadly pink cloud appears across the globe, forcing everyone to stay home. Strangers at the outset, Giovana and Yago try to invent themselves as a couple as years of shared lockdown pass. While Yago is living in his own utopia, Giovana feels trapped deep inside. Cast: Renata de Lélis, Eduardo Mendonça.

PLEASURE

Director and screenwriter: Ninja Thyberg; producers: Eliza Jones, Markus Waltå, Erik Hemmendorff; Sweden/Netherlands/France

A 20-year-old girl moves from her small town in Sweden to LA for a shot at a career in the adult film industry. Cast: Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Evelyn Claire, Chris Cock, Dana DeArmond, Kendra Spade.

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

FAYA DAYI

Director, screenwriter and producer: Jessica Beshir; Ethiopia/USA

A spiritual journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, a leaf Sufi Muslims chewed for centuries for religious meditations—and Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. A tapestry of intimate stories offers a window into the dreams of youth under a repressive regime.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOY IN THE WORLD

Directors: Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri; producer: Stina Gardell; Sweden

Swedish actor/musician Björn Andresen’s life was forever changed at the age of 15, when he played Tadzio, the object of Dirk Bogarde’s obsession in Death in Venice—a role which led Italian maestro Luchino Visconti to dub him “the world’s most beautiful boy.”

PLAYING WITH SHARKS

Director and screenwriter: Sally Aitken; producer: Bettina Dalton; Australia

Valerie Taylor is a shark fanatic and an Australian icon—a marine maverick who forged her way as a fearless diver, cinematographer and conservationist. She filmed the real sharks for Jaws and famously wore a chainmail suit, using herself as shark bait, changing our scientific understanding of sharks forever.

PRESIDENT

Director: Camilla Nielsson; producers: Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joslyn Barnes; Denmark/USA/Norway

Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. The leader of the opposition MDC party, Nelson Chamisa, challenges the old guard ZANU-PF led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as “The Crocodile.” The election tests both the ruling party and the opposition—how do they interpret principles of democracy in discourse and in practice?

TAMING THE GARDEN

Director Salomé Jashi; producers: Vadim Jendreyko, Erik Winker, Martin Roelly, Salomé Jashi; Switzerland/Germany/Georgia

A poetic ode to the rivalry between men and nature.

WRITING WITH FIRE

Directors, screenwriters, and producers: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh; India

In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, chief reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions on the three frontlines of India’s biggest issues and within the confines of their own homes, redefining what it means to be powerful.

NEXT

THE BLAZING WORLD

USA; director: Carlson Young, screenwriters: Carlson Young, Pierce Brown; producers: Brinton Bryan, Elizabeth Avellán

Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive. Cast: Udo Kier, Carlson Young, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw, John Karna, Soko.

MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY

Director and screenwriter: Marion Hill; producers: Ben Matheny, Kelsey Scult, Marion Hill; USA/France

A surprise reunion in southern France reignites passions and jealousies between two women who were formerly polyamorous lovers. Cast: Idella Johnson, Hannah Pepper, Lucien Guignard, Sivan Noam Shimon.

WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR

Director and screenwriter: Jane Schoenbrun; producers: Sarah Winshall, Carlos Zozaya; USA

A teenage girl becomes immersed in an online role-playing game. Cast: Anna Cobb, Michael J. Rogers.

PREMIERES

BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE

Director and screenwriter: Lucy Walker; producers: Lucy Walker, Julian Cautherley, Holly Becker, Lyn Lear; USA

A character-driven verité and revelatory investigation takes us on a journey embedded with firefighters and residents on a mission to understand the causes of historically large wildfires and how to survive them, discovering that the solution has been here all along.

HOW IT ENDS

Directors, screenwriters, and producers: Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones; USA

On the last day on Earth, one woman goes on a journey through LA to make it to her last party before the world ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way. Cast: Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Helen Hunt, Lamorne Morris.

IN THE SAME BREATH

Director: Nanfu Wang; producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn; USA

How did the Chinese government turn pandemic coverups in Wuhan into a triumph for the Communist party? An essential narrative of firsthand accounts of the coronavirus, and a revelatory examination of how propaganda and patriotism shaped the outbreak’s course—both in China and in the U.S.

LAND

Director: Robin Wright; screenwriters: Jesse Chatham, Erin Dignam; producers: Allyn Stewart, Lora Kennedy, Peter Saraf, Leah Holzer; USA

The poignant story of one woman’s search, in the aftermath of an unfathomable event, for meaning in the vast and harsh American wilderness. Cast: Robin Wright, Demián Bichir, Kim Dickens.

MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE

Director and screenwriter: Kate Tsang; producer: Carolyn Mao; USA

A teenage delinquent befriends a surly magician who helps her navigate her inner demons and dysfunctional family with sleight of hand magic, in a coming-of-age comedy that touches on unlikely friendships, grief, and finding hope in the darkest moments. Cast: Miya Cech, Rhea Perlman, Leonardo Nam, Kannon Omachi, Paulina Lule, Keith Powell.

MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY

Directors: Betsy West, Julie Cohen; producer: Talleah Bridges McMahon; USA

Overlooked by history, Pauli Murray was a legal trailblazer whose ideas influenced RBG’s fight for gender equality and Thurgood Marshall’s landmark civil rights arguments. Featuring never-before-seen footage and audio recordings, a portrait of Murray’s impact as a nonbinary Black luminary: lawyer, activist, poet, and priest who transformed our world.

STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET

Director: Marilyn Agrelo; producers: Trevor Crafts, Ellen Scherer Crafts, Lisa Diamond; USA

How did a group of rebels create the world’s most famous street? In 1969 New York, this “gang” of mission-driven artists, writers and educators catalyzed amoment of civil awakening, transforming it into Sesame Street, one of most influential and impactful television programs in history.

MIDNIGHT

CENSOR

Director: Prano Bailey-Bond; screenwriters: Prano Bailey-Bond, Anthony Fletcher; producer: Helen Jones; United Kingdom

When film censor Enid discovers an eerie horror that speaks directly to her sister’s mysterious disappearance, she resolves to unravel the puzzle behind the film and its enigmatic director—a quest blurring the lines between fiction and reality in terrifying ways. Cast: Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, Michael Smiley.

KNOCKING

Director: Frida Kempff; screenwriter: Emma Broström; producer: Erik Andersson; Sweden

When Molly moves into her new apartment after a tragic accident, a strange noise from upstairs begins to unnerve her. As its intensity grows, she confronts her neighbors—but no one seems to hear what she is hearing. Cast: Cecilia Milocco.

VIOLATION

Directors, screenwriters, and producers: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli; Canada

A troubled woman on the edge of divorce returns home to her younger sister after years apart. But when her sister and brother-in-law betray her trust, she embarks on a vicious crusade of revenge. Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger.

SPOTLIGHT

THE WORLD TO COME

Director: Mona Fastvold; screenwriters: Ron Hansen, Jim Shepard; producers: Casey Affleck, Whitaker Lader, Pamela Koffler, David Hinojosa, Margarethe Baillou; USA

Somewhere along the mid-nineteenth century American East Coast frontier, two neighboring couples battle hardship and isolation, witnessed by a splendid yet testing landscape, challenging them both physically and psychologically. Cast: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck, Christopher Abbott.

NEW FRONTIER

4 FEET HIGH VR

Lead artists: María Belén Poncio, Rosario Perazolo Masjoan, Damian Turkieh, Ezequiel Lenardón; key collaborators: Marie Blondiaux, Marcos Rostagno, Eugenia Foguel, Matias Benedetti, Manuel Yeri, Martin Lopez Funes, Guillermo Mena; Argentina/France

Juana, a 17-year-old wheelchair user, aims to explore her sexuality but is ashamed of her body. Trying to find her place in a new high school, she will go through failure, friendship, fear and politics until she builds her own pride. Cast: Marisol Agostina Irigoyen, Florencia Licera, Marcio Ramses, Natalia Di Cienzo, Francisca Spinotti.

BEYOND THE BREAKDOWN

Lead artists: Tony Patrick, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Grace Lee; key collaborators: Jesse Cahn Thompson, Aldo Velasco; USA

Imagining alternate narratives for our near-future reality, inside a browser designed to hack our normal online behaviors and cultivate collaborative spaces for self-reflection and renewal.

THE CHANGING SAME: EPISODE 1

Lead artists: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, Yasmin Elayat; key collaborators: James George, Alexander Porter, Rad Mora, Elliott Mitchell; USA

An immersive, episodic virtual reality experience where the participant travels through time and space to witness the connected historical experiences of racial injustice in America. A respectful, haunting story infused with magical realism and Afrofuturism about the uninterrupted cycle of the 400-year history of racial terror—past and present.

NIGHTSSS

Lead artists: Weronika Lewandowska, Sandra Frydrysiak; key collaborators: Marcin Macuk, Piotr Apostel, Kaya Kołodziejczyk, Marek Straszak, Arek Zub, Przemek Danowski; Poland

A virtual erotic poem created in artistic animation with ASMR and interactive elements, immersing the viewer in the sensual experience of poetry and dance.

PRISON X – CHAPTER ONE: THE DEVIL AND THE SUN

Lead artists: Violeta Ayala, Alap Parikh, Maria Corvera Vargas, Roly Elias, Key Collaborators: Daniel Fallshaw, Rilda Paco Alvarado, Alberto Santiago; Australia/Bolivia/India

Heavy doors open and you are swept into an infamous Bolivian jail, where you live among devils, saints, wicked characters, corrupt prison guards and even a Western filmmaker. In Prison X, inhabit the dreams and nightmares of the Neo-Andean underworld. Cast: Violeta Ayala, Genesis Owusu, Celina Debassey, Anamaria Gómez Jaramillo, Jesse Odom, Nicole Ukelele.

RICH KIDS: A HISTORY OF SHOPPING MALLS IN TEHRAN

Lead artists: Javaad Alipoor, Kirsty Housley; key collaborator: Nick Sweeting; United Kingdom/Iran

A darkly comedic, urgent new play about entitlement, consumption and digital technology, exploring the ubiquitous feeling that our societies are falling apart through the story of two young members of the Iranian elite, asking what their deaths tell us about climate change, social collapse and Instagram. Cast: Javaad Alipoor, Peyvand Sadeghian.

SECRET GARDEN

Lead artist: Stephanie Dinkins; key collaborators: Ethan Edwards, John Fitzgerald, Matthew Niederhauser, Danielle McPhatter, Sidney San Martín, Kate Stevenson, Adaora Udoji, Chris White; USA

An immersive web experience and installation, illuminating the power and resilience in Black women’s stories. Interactive audio vignettes generate a multi-generational narrative that collapses past, present, and future. Cast: Dayne Board, Erlene Curry, Tianna Mendez, Melissa Moore, Brandi Porter, Lisa Sainville.

TINKER

Lead artist: Lou Ward; key collaborators: Shimon Alkon, Lara Bucarey, Avril Martinez, Aileen Paron, Anthony Alan Garcia, Roberto Tan, Cristopher David, Neil Realubit, Anton Arcega, David Conklin, Evan Chavez; USA

What happens when the memories we spend a lifetime creating begin to disappear? Step inside the Grandfather’s workshop to discover this answer for yourself. In this live, bespoke unscripted performance, reimagine what it means to play, to connect and to hold fast to the memories we create. Cast: Randy Dixon.

TO MISS THE ENDING

Lead artists: Anna West, David Callanan, Key Collaborators: Jamie Finlay, Steph Clarke, Dan Tucker; United Kingdom

A VR cubicle of cardboard boxes begins to glitch, revealing an empty dark space in front of you—until something glimmers in the distance, a wave of blue flooding towards you. A chorus of real memories and imagined futures expands, until only the largest memories are left. Cast: Charlotte Berry, Michael Dodds, Houmi Miura, Ben Kulvichit, Anna West.

TRAVELING THE INTERSTITIUM WITH OCTAVIA BUTLER

Lead artists: Sophia Nahli Allison, idris brewster, Stephanie Dinkins, Ari Melenciano, Terence Nance; key collaborators: Yance Ford, Sharon Chang, Kamal Sinclair; USA

Inspired by the ideas of Octavia Butler, voyaging into the interstitium: a liminal space, a cultural memory, containing the remnants of our ancestors, a place of refuge, a place of recentering, a portal into an alternate dimension.

WEIRDO NIGHT

Lead artists: Jibz Cameron, Mariah Garnett; USA

A filmed edition, hosted by Dynasty Handbag, of the wildly popular, underground, eponymous live performance and comedy event that, until COVID-19, was held monthly in Los Angeles. Cast: Patti Harrison, Smiling Beth, Morgan Bassichis, Sarah Squirm, Hedia Maron, Blasia Discoteca.

INDIE SERIES PROGRAM

4 FEET HIGH

Directors: María Belén Poncio, Rosario Perazolo Masjoan; executive producers: Ezequiel Lenardón, Marie Blondiaux; Argentina/France

Juana, a 17-year-old wheelchair user, aims to explore her sexuality but is ashamed of her body. Trying to find her place in a new high school, she will go through failure, friendship, fear and politics until she builds her own pride. Cast: Marisol Agostina Irigoyen, Florencia Licera, Marcio Ramses, Natalia Di Cienzo, Francisca Spinotti.

SEEDS OF DECEIT

Director: Miriam Guttmann; executive producers: Monique Busman, Michiel van Erp; Netherlands

The revelation that Dr. Karbaat clandestinely used his own semen to inseminate more than 65 of his patients shocked the world. A vivid portrayal of how that happened and all the ways it haunts those affected: the emotional trauma of coming to terms with a changed life, a new identity.

WOULD YOU RATHER

Creators: Lise Akoka, Romane Guéret; executive producer: Pierre Grimaus, Jean Dathanat; France/Germany

Sixteen-year-olds Shaï, Djeneba, Aladi, and Ismaël grew up in a working-class Paris neighborhood. Together, they watch hours drift by, cracking jokes, and playing their favorite game, “Would you rather?” As the group’s equilibrium suddenly shifts, they have to start making choices—in their lives and their game. Cast: Fanta Kebe, Shirel Nataf, Zakaria Lazab, Mouctar Diawara.

SHORTS: U.S. FICTION

AVA FROM MY CLASS

Director: Youmin Kang; screenwriters: Youmin Kang, Soomin Kang; USA/South Korea

Anna thinks Ava is the best actress in her class.

BAMBIRAK

Director and screenwriter: Zamarin Wahdat; USA/Germany

When Kati stows away in her father’s truck, Faruk must juggle his responsibilities as a single dad while holding down his first job in a new country. As their relationship deepens, a brush with covert racism tests their bond.

DOUBLESPEAK

Director and screenwriter: Hazel McKibbin; USA

A young woman grapples with the aftermath of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.

LATA

Director: Alisha Mehta; screenwriters: Alisha Mehta, Mireya Martinez; India/USA

Lata, a 23-year-old domestic worker, navigates her way through an upper-class home in South Mumbai. Doors consistently open and close, giving Lata selective access to the various contending realities that occupy this space.

WHITE WEDDING

Director and screenwriter: Melody C. Roscher; USA

Amidst a racially tense Southern wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black father after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform. World Premiere

WIGGLE ROOM

Directors and screenwriters: Sam Guest, Julia Baylis; USA

Determined to save her wheelchair ramp from repossession, Daisy confronts the shady insurance agent who owes her money. World Premiere

YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND

Director: Trish Harnetiaux; screenwriters: Trish Harnetiaux, Jacob A. Ware; USA

An idyllic picnic of one is upended after the arrival of a stranger.

SHORTS: INTERNATIONAL FICTION

THE AFFECTED

Director: Rikke Gregersen; screenwriters: Rikke Gregersen, Trond Arntzen; Norway

Minutes before takeoff, a situation occurs, preventing an airplane from departing: in an attempt to prevent the deportation of one passenger, another refuses to sit down – forcing the pilot to take a political stand.

BLACK BODIES

Director and screenwriter: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall; Canada

A Black man laments as he comes face-to-face with the realities of being Black in the 21st century.

FIVE TIGER

Director and screenwriter: Nomawonga Khumalo; South Africa

A god-fearing woman in present-day South Africa finds herself in a transactional relationship as she tries to support her sick husband and daughter.

FLEX

Directors and screenwriters: Josefin Malmen, David Strindberg; Sweden

He may be god enough, but is he good enough? A slightly surreal comedic exploration of the fine line between a bodybuilder’s self-loathing and self-loving.

LIKE THE ONES I USED TO KNOW

Director and screenwriter: Annie St-Pierre; Canada

December 24, 1983, 10:50 p.m.: Julie and her cousins ate too much sugar, Santa Claus is late. Denis, alone in his car, is anxious at the idea of setting foot in his ex-in-law’s house to pick up his children. World Premiere

MOUNTAIN CAT

Director and screenwriter: Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir; Mongolia/United Kingdom

A troubled girl is coerced into seeing a shaman. Trapped by the ancient beliefs that pacify her mother, she finds peace in the physical realm, unleashing her repressed, youthful spirit on the shaman when she realizes his true identity.

NONFICTION SHORTS

DEAR PHILADELPHIA

Director: Renee Osubu; USA/United Kingdom

With the help of their family, friends, and faith, three fathers unravel the incomparable partnership of forgiveness and community in North Philadelphia.

THE FIELD TRIP

Directors: Meghan O’Hara, Mike Attie, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck; USA

A group of fifth-graders learn what it takes to get ahead in the modern American workplace.

THE RIFLEMAN

Director: Sierra Pettengill; screenwriters: Daniel Garber, Sierra Pettengill; USA

Told entirely through archival material, tracing Harlon Carter, considered the “father of the modern NRA,” across the decades, revealing the links between the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Border Patrol, and gun culture.

SNOWY

Directors: Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis; USA

Snowy, a 4-inch-long pet turtle, has lived an isolated life in the family basement. With help from a team of experts and his caretaker, Uncle Larry, we ask: Can Snowy be happy and what would it take?

SPIRITS AND ROCKS: AN AZOREAN MYTH

Director: Aylin Gökmen; Switzerland/Portugal

On a volcanic island, inhabitants are caught in an unending cycle: the threat of impending eruptions, and the burden of past traumas, loom over them. Some draw upon myth and religious beliefs to interpret their precarious situation; others demonstrate resilience.

TEARS TEACHER

Director: Noemie Nakai; Japan

Yoshida is a self-proclaimed “tears teacher.” A firm believer that regular crying promotes healthier living, he’s made it his mission to make more people weep.

THIS IS THE WAY WE RISE

Director: Ciara Lacy; USA

An exploration into the creative process, following Native Hawaiian slam poet Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, as her art is reinvigorated by her calling to protect sacred sites atop Maunakea, Hawai`i.

TO KNOW HER

Director: Natalie Chao; USA/Hong Kong

A poetic exploration of the camera’s gaze and a family’s relationship with the filmmaker’s mother.

ANIMATED SHORTS

THE FOURFOLD

Director and screenwriter: Alisi Telengut; USA

An exploration of the Indigenous worldview and wisdom based on ancient shamanistic traditions and animistic beliefs in Siberia and Mongolia. With handcrafted animation, a testament of reclaiming animism for environmental ethics and non-human materialities.

GNT

Directors and screenwriters: Sara Hirner, Rosemary Vasquez-Brown; Australia

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

MISERY LOVES COMPANY

Director: Sasha Lee, Screenwriters: Sasha Lee, Yejin Choi; USA/South Korea

As Seolgi is lying on a grass field with friends, a shooting star falls, and dark, intrusive thoughts hit her. Her melancholy blooms into bright and colorful “flower people,” dancing and wishing for a meteorite to end the world.

TREPANATION

Director: Nick Flaherty; USA

What was once familiar is now unrecognizable. All previous desires are overshadowed by the need to disappear completely.

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