One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. While we can learn a lot about the filmmakers from the 2023 Sundance Film Festival through the art that these storytellers share with us, there’s always more we can learn about them as people. This year, we decided to get to the bottom of those artistic wells with our Backstory questionnaire!
The main challenge of creating a memorable short film is twofold: Not only do you have to capture the audience’s attention immediately, you also have to leave an impact in a matter of minutes. Parker, which screened as part of Short Film Program 1 at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, invites viewers to think, feel, and laugh, all within its 13-minute run time.
Directed by Sharon Liese and Catherine Hoffman, Parker unites three generations of a Kansas City family for a monumental event. They’re choosing their own last name — a decision that countless Black Americans have been unable to make. “This film has these themes of legacy and naming in the African American community. It gets into Black history,” says Hoffman in the film’s Meet The Artist video. “And the Parkers are just a really fun, joyful family,” she adds. Black joy was a meaningful component of the film for Hoffman— it’s an emotion not often depicted on screen — and the Parkers have it in spades.
Below, discover the other feelings Hoffman hopes to inspire in Parker’s viewers, as well as why she believes filmmaking is important to the world. And if you missed seeing the short at the Festival in January, fear not — Parker is one of seven shorts traveling across the U.S. (and beyond) as part of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which kicked off June 9. Click here for information about upcoming dates and venues.
Films are lasting artistic legacies; what do you want yours to say?
When people look back on my career, I want them to say that I always treated people with kindness and represented their stories authentically.
How do you want people to feel after they see your film?
After they see this film, I want people to feel like they have to go hug their family.
Tell us why and how you got into filmmaking. Why do you do it?
When I was about 4 years old, my mother took me into the TV station where she worked. The second that I saw the blinking lights, the switcher board, and the capable crew racing around, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
Why is filmmaking important to you? Why is it important to the world?
My personal theory is that there is enough empathy in the world to create the change needed to have a kind and equitable society. The issue is, people don’t know what we don’t know. I see my role as creating films that expose people to the humanity in other walks of life. Generating this empathy, sparking joy, stirring up righteous anger, through film, can get us where we need to go.
If you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be doing?
What three things do you always have in your refrigerator?
Soy sauce, Sriracha, and Frank’s RedHot
What’s the last book you read?
Honey and Spice by the rom-com queen herself, Bolu Babalola.
What’s your favorite film that has come from the Sundance Institute or Festival?
Get Out. Everything Jordan Peele touches turns to gold.