In the third episode of the Sundance 2023 podcast season, we discuss highlights of the festival so far, including the films Slow, Fancy Dance, Scrapper, A Still Small Voice, and half of the World Dramatic Competition.
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Listen to the whole Sundance 2023 season
Today is the third of many episodes of the 2023 Sundance season of the Seventh Row podcast.
Sundance 2023 runs from January 19-28, and we’ll be covering this year’s festival in a new podcast season about the films this year and how the programming fits into the festival’s history.
Listen to all the episodes to discover the year’s best and worst films, and how this year’s program jives with past festivals.
About this episode: Slow, Fancy Dance, Scrapper and more Sundance film highlights
- 00:00 Introduction
- 09:10 Films from the Sundance World Dramatic Competition so far: Slow, Heroic, Scrapper, When It Melts, Mamacruz, Girl
- 53:23 Fancy Dance starring Lily Gladstone
- 1:18:35 A Still Small Voice
- 1:24:22 Sundance bingo
The World Dramatic Competition So Far
In our first dispatch on the world premieres at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, we delve into the under-discussed and oft-ignored World Dramatic Competition. We go deep on our favourite World Dramatic Competition title so far: Slow (dir. Marija Kavtaradze), Scrapper (dir. Charlotte Regan), and When It Melts (dir. Veerle Baetens).
Slow is a Lithuanian film about a dancer navigating a new relationship with her asexual partner. The film Scrapper is about a working class twelve-year-old girl in Dagenham who recently lost her mother and reconnects with her estranged father (an excellent Harris Dickinson). When It Melts is about a traumatic childhood event in a twelve-year-old girl’s life that has devastating consequences for her as an adult. We also discuss Heroic (dir. David Zonana, Workforce) and Mamacruz (dir. Patricia Ortega), which also screened in the World Dramatic Competition.
In past years, we’ve found some of our favourite films at Sundance in this section, including The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet (2021), Charter (2020), The Souvenir (2020), God’s Own Country (2017), Mammal (2016), Sand Storm (2016), and Homesick (2015). Unfortunately, these films also have the tendency to disappear so we wanted to throw a spotlight on the competition this year (as we do every year!), to draw attention to films you’ll want to watch out for at local film festivals, which may be your only opportunity to watch them, or could get buried on VOD in the future. And hopefully, we can help get these films noticed and distributed!
Early US highlights
Finally, we turn to two early US highlights. First, Erica Tremblay’s Fancy Dance in the US Dramatic Competition about an Indigenous woman (Lily Gladstone) searching for her sister who recently went missing (MMIWG) while suddenly finding herself the sole guardian for her 12-year-old niece. Second, Orla highlights the documentary A Still Small Voice (dir. Luke Lorentzen), about the toll on a hospital chaplain of constantly extending empathy to others.
Finally, in our cheeky ongoing segment, we take stock of how we’re doing on our Sundance Bingo card. The festival’s programming can be a bit predictable: they have certain slots to fill and they make sure they fill them. Sundance Bingo is a fun way to see just if the programming is as predictable as we expected and how. Download the Sundance 2023 bingo card to follow along at home.
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Show Notes on E3 of the Sundance 2023 podcast season: Fancy Dance, Slow, Scrapper, A Still Small Voice and more
Links to articles/books related to the 2023 selections
- Get our book on creative nonfiction film, Subjective Realities, featuring interviews with Tabitha Jackson, Penny Lane, Robert Greene, Kirsten Johnson, Joe Bini, Pacho Velez, and more.
- Read our coverage of Hala and Crystal Swan, which were both shot by cinematographer Carolina Costa (who did Fancy Dance).
- Listen to our Penny Lane and Carol Nguyen interview (which also exists in Subjective Realities) in podcast form where they discuss the genre “creative nonfiction” and how why Lane coined it to describe her films.
- Read about why we named Harris Dickinson and Lily Gladstone as two of the fifty screen stars of tomorrow in 2021. Dickinson stars in the World Dramatic Competition film Scrapper at Sundance 2023. Gladstone stars in the US Dramatic Competition film Fancy Dance.
- Watch Lockdown Film School with Lily Gladstone. Gladstone has a new film, Fancy Dance, at Sundance 2023, and we’re excited to see it.
- Read an excerpt from our interview with Lily Gladstone which touches on her love of linguistics from the ebook Roads to nowhere: Kelly Reichardt’s broken American Dreams. Gladstone talks about learning different languages, which is particularly relevant to Fancy Dance in which she speaks Cherokee.
- Read our interview with writer-director Sonia Boileau on her Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) drama Rustic Oracle. Fancy Dance, one of our festival favourites thus far, also addresses MMIWG.
- Read Orla’s Quick Thoughts review on last year’s Girl Picture, in which one third of the central trio of characters questions whether she’s asexual. This was the highlight of the 2022 World Dramatic Competition. This year’s Slow also features an asexual character.
- Download the Sundance 2023 bingo card to follow along at home.
Related episodes to Sundance 2023 E3: Slow, Fancy Dance, Scrapper, A Still Small Voice, and more
All of our podcasts that are more than six months old are only available to members. We also regularly release members only bonus episodes. Many of the episodes listed here are now only available to members (Members Only).
Discover all of our past podcast episodes on films that screened at Sundance.
Listen to all the related episodes. Become a member.
For exclusive access to all of our episodes, including all of our in-between season episodes:
- Ep. 116: Virtual film festivals: Taking stock of their past, present, and future (Members Only): Sundance is one of the only festivals in 2023 to continue to offer a virtual component. On this episode from 2021, we talked about the advent of virtual film festivals, why we like them, why they may struggle, and what we’d like to see in the future.
- Ep. 123: Sundance 2022: Creative nonfiction (FREE): In this episode, we talk about Sundance’s history of programming creative nonfiction films and how this has changed in the last decade. We’ll be on the lookout for exciting new creative nonfiction films at the festival this year. Our early favourite is A Still Small Voice.
- Bonus Episode 23: Sundance 2022: Fiction Films (Members Only): At the end of Sundance 2022, we reflect on the highs, lows, discoveries, and disappointments among the fiction films at the festival, including Girl Picture, the best film in the 2022 World Dramatic Competition.
- Ep. 63: Indigenous YA, part 2 (Members Only): In this episode, we discuss a fantastic films about MMIWG that precedes Fancy Dance, Rustic Oracle, a film made in Canada. Rustic Oracle would make for a great double feature with Fancy Dance.
- Ep. 53: First Stripes and Boys State (Members Only): We go deep on the fantastic documentary First Stripes, which follows new recruits through basic training in the Canadian military.
Catch up with the rest of the Sundance 2023 podcast season
Listen to all the related episodes. Become a member.
For exclusive access to all of our episodes, including all of our in-between season episodes:
Speakers on this episode
Host Alex Heeney is the Editor-in-Chief of Seventh Row. Find her on Twitter @bwestcineaste.
Host Orla Smith is the Executive Editor of Seventh Row. Find her on Instagram @orla_p_smith.
The transcript for the free excerpt of this episode was AI-generated by Otter.ai.
Alex Heeney 0:17
Welcome to the third episode of The Sundance 2023 Season of the seventh row podcast, Sundance runs from January 19 to 29th 2023. Today we'll be discussing some of the highlights of the festival that we've seen so far, most of which are films directed by women. I'm Alex Heeney, editor in chief of seventh Thoreau, and this is my 10th consecutive year covering Sundance, I'm joined by Orla Smith, our executive editor. And this is her fourth year covering Sundance. Hello. Sundance marks the beginning of the new film year as a festival made up primarily of world premieres. In this podcast season we'll be talking about but the films we see at the festival and how the films this year fit into the context of the history of the festivals programming.
Orla Smith 1:08
Yes. And so over the course of the festival, we'll be dropping episodes, some will be discussing particular themes at the festival, but a lot of them would be as this one just kind of regular dispatches about our thoughts on the film's as they go as they premiere as their embargoes left. And as we watched them. And we'll be trying to as we go kind of sum up our experience of like the different programs and the different themes we start emerging at Sundance and how that relates to our experiences, our past experiences covering Sundance and what it is, is a festival.
Alex Heeney 1:48
Yeah, I think one of the things that's unique about our coverage of Sundance is how much we focus both on the world dramatic and World Documentary films in competition, which tend to get ignored in favor of the buzzier US titles. And the other thing that we are now on the hunt for is what we're calling creative nonfiction documentaries, which are sort of documentaries that push the boundaries of nonfiction. What is to what degree where's the line between fiction and nonfiction? Are they using interesting formal techniques?
Orla Smith 2:26
It's something I would say. You said, we're calling it creative nonfiction, which is interesting. Yeah. As we speak, we, we swear we stole that name for it from Penny Lane, who you interviewed many years ago? Nuts, at Sundance that you interviewed her. Yeah, I was. And she used the term creative nonfiction, which is not a super common term for these kinds of films, but was a term she liked to use. She was borrowed from kind of literature, it's a more common turn of phrase.
Alex Heeney 2:54
I guess we you can watch the interview with her that we did with Carol Nguyen. Online. I think it's also on the podcast. Yes. It's on the podcast, and back in the feed where she and Carol talk about what creative nonfiction mean. And that became the basis of our book on
Orla Smith 3:12
Yes. creative nonfiction. So we wrote a book called Subjective realities: the art of creative nonfiction film. Which features Yeah, don't view that with Penny Lane and Carol Nguyen. And the definitely, certainly the terminology we use was inspired by Penny Lane a lot. And, and guess what, when I was looking through the program at Sundance this year, and when I was going through neck says a film called the Tuba Thieves. And it described itself as creative nonfiction in the program, which I thought was very exciting. The phrase seems to be becoming more prevalent as a descriptor, which is fun. Yeah. Which
Alex Heeney 3:52
is it's it's kind of funny that that's the film that got it. I actually only made it through half an hour of it. But it's a film where you have no fucking clue what is going on what's like, fiction and what's nonfiction, and not in the sense that like, it's animated, or there's just reenactments. It's like people speak in stagey ways. There's random footage, there's like footage that seems like it's that like, seems overly written where people are talking. It's like, it feels like you're watching a bad fiction film at some time. And, and, and I was half an hour into this 90 minute film, where it kept telling us that these two books were stolen from this high school. And I still had no idea why we cared. And what that had to do with anything that was going on on screen. So I hope that doesn't mean that the term creative nonfiction is now going to be used in a derogatory way or in a way to describe I don't know what the hell this is.
Orla Smith 4:52
Yeah, it's not so that's in the next category. Yeah, I think next category is an interesting place to look for creative nonfiction. It's a mixture of fiction and documentary. And it tends to be in that category where you'll find the films that are most overtly playful with form. Although I'd say that also in us. In the US stock competition and the world docs competition, you can not all you get some more conventional ducks in those sections. But you do also occasionally get more kind of formally dairy ducks like last year there was, I didn't see that it was in the US docs competition. And it really easily could have been the next in the NEXT competition as a super low budget film that's kind of like, formally quite new.
Alex Heeney 5:36
But traditionally, I mean, where they used to throw all the creative nonfiction until it became more mainstream was in the new frontier section. And that's where our number one film of last year was 32 sounds which was a creative nonfiction film, it's actually going to get a theatrical run soon. They just remixed the sound so that like it was designed for headphones, they just remixed it so that you could now go watch it in a theater, I think in the spring sometime. Yeah, and amazing film, and that's where camera person was way back in the day.
Orla Smith 6:09
But interesting is camera. But you've you've noted before that camera person now would probably be in like, your mainstream competition. Yeah. Then the new frontiers is interesting to see how our perception of what is like outside of the boundaries in documentaries shifting very quickly, which is obviously something we talk about a lot the book. Yeah, which you can find it subjective realities.com It should be in the show notes. So I really love that book and and get it's got some really interesting conversations in it. Well, and
Alex Heeney 6:40
in it, you talk to the former head of Sundance who's who ran the nonfiction program at Sundance, and yes, and a lot of filmmakers who screened at Sundance and get insider information about well, I talked to some of them too. But you talk to a lot more of the Sundance.
Orla Smith 6:57
Yeah. You find out I think, in the book, both in my conversation with Tabitha Jackson, who was kind of like, who ran the art of nonfiction initiative at Sundance. And actually the last few years, she she was the director of Sundance, and she's just stepped down before this addition. And so I talked to her about running that initiative, and you kind of get a sense of why so much interesting documentary has been emerging in the US specifically. And a lot of those people have been filtered through the Sundance or to nonfiction initiative. Yeah. And they talked to a lot of people who had been through that initiative, like, like Robert Greene. And I talked to like, it's Kirsten Johnson was part of the initiative, I think, yeah, it's early days. And she ended up actually marrying Tabitha Jackson. So that was a success story, I suppose.
Alex Heeney 7:48
As a family now, they're in the SAKs
Orla Smith 7:51
families passages Sundance later in the week. And who else was it? That was? I know that giovine Wasn't
Alex Heeney 8:00
there a bunch that have screened at Sundance but maybe weren't funded by Sundance like Penny Lane? Joe beanie,
Orla Smith 8:08
I think I think Joe beany in some way had some involvement with the acetone fiction initiative, not as like a participant, but maybe as some kind of mentor. Okay. I think that's how he and Robert Greene got well connected, but I'm not exactly sure what that was. But I know he's been involved. And
Alex Heeney 8:24
there are a bunch of like Sundance films that end up being like breakout films like flea, we talked to the director of that film, which got three Oscar nominations and animated documentary, and patio villas, you had a great film searchers. It seems to be virtually disappeared. But it was a really interesting piece of creative nonfiction. Yes,
Orla Smith 8:43
that's just I thought I thought that film was one that was gonna get picked up because it's a very lovable film. Yeah, like, it's very gentle and nice to watch.
Alex Heeney 8:51
Yeah. Well, there's still time.
Orla Smith 8:55
Yeah. That's the kind of film where I was like, I watched it. I was like, This is gonna be like, picked up by Netflix or something. Yeah. And then now, two years later, it's like, disappeared.
Alex Heeney 9:04
I know. Well, hopefully not forever.
Orla Smith 9:06
Hopefully not forever. So you talk about some of the films today.
Alex Heeney 9:12
Yeah. So I mean, I guess we'll see. We're gonna start off with some of the world dramatic films.
Orla Smith 9:18
This week. Yeah, we aim to watch all of the world dramatic films every year between us. Yeah, we'll be following that journey on through these episodes.
Alex Heeney 9:27
I mean, I kind of became a really big fan girl for the world dramatic competition in my early years at Sundance, because I kept seeing these really wonderful films that then disappeared forever. And I was like, if I don't cover this, no one will see it and I will never get to see this film again. And there were a ton of films like that that we loved like the second feature from Amanda kernel charter. What happened to that? Wonderful Norwegian film from Anne Sewitsky, homesick, which you can watch on UK Netflix. acts now. And then there's been some some bigger breakouts, mostly British films, that actually, people have seen. And you may heard of like, God's Own Country that screened in world dramatic and Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir. We wrote books on both of them. So it's kind of like the, it's a weird program, because there's a bunch of stuff that's bad, which is why people avoid it because they don't want to take the risk. And then you'll often find the best film of the festival in world dramatic.
Orla Smith 10:30
Yeah, the disappointing thing about love dramatic is it's largely ignored by people on the ground, especially because they will watch, there'll be, you know, English language films with big stars that screen at the same time, so they just won't see the dramatic films. Yeah. And so the only films that ended up breaking out and more dramatic are the films that are in English, which is kind of a bit paradoxical. But like the souvenir was a big break out that God's own country like you said, and two years ago, Pleasure was the one that was kind of big in world dramatic in 2020. And it was in there because the director of Swedish and the star of Swedish but it's about a Swedish woman traveling to live in LA to be part of the LA porn industry. So it was very much a film that appealed to the US-centric kind of viewing patterns of Sundance audiences. So what I think we find a value in trying to be champions of world dramatic in our coverage because who else is going to
Alex Heeney 11:32
Yeah, another film that was unwell dramatic that was British, the Ben Whishaw film lilting, which we all swoon over in our Paddington episode. There's a very funny moment where we all go, oh, "he was so good in Lilting."
Orla Smith 11:45
All at the same time. Yeah, yeah. Two Ben Whishaw films this year. Yeah. None of them will be as good as Lilting, maybe. One of them's in world dramatic. So, yeah. Australian film. Yeah. Ben Whishaw in Australian.
Alex Heeney 12:01
So no, he's not. But he's pals with the mother of the director.
Orla Smith 12:08
Yeah. Who is from New Zealand, not Australia.
Alex Heeney 12:12
Yeah. But Jane Campion has been living in Australia for like, decades. So Alison, grew up in Australia. Yeah. Okay, so I guess we're gonna go from like, best to worst year.
Orla Smith 12:26
I suppose. I mean, there's not anything terrible we've seen so far. The thing with wild dramatic in the last few years is is? Well, last year, particularly we watched all of them, I think between us, right? Yeah. And they were and was like, good. Yes. So like, there was one film that kind of stood out, which was Girl Picture, which was the first film I actually sort of any Sundance film last year. And I was like, Oh, this is like a really nice start. Like, it's a flawed film, but it feels very real and lived in a light day. And you know, you know, I'm sure there'll be something better and more dramatic. But I really enjoyed this. Yeah. And and yeah, and everything else was like pretty doll. Yeah. And that film ended up being the only one that stood out and even so it wasn't nearly as good as the best of of or dramatic the previous year, the dog who wouldn't be quiet, which was like a really stunning film really great film. Yeah. Yeah. And so I think it can only get better for Wilderotter it's already on like, a decent track record to be better, I think. Yeah, I yeah, this
Alex Heeney 13:32
feels like a return to form for well, dramatic.
Orla Smith 13:37
I don't think I found my like, film I fall in love with yet now dramatic, but I've at least found one that I really like. Yeah. Which maybe we should talk because we both.
Alex Heeney 13:46
So the film that we both really liked is called slow. So Slow is a Lithuanian film a second feature from the director. Please forgive me, Marija Kavtaradze. And it's, I mean, one of the things that's really rare about it is one of the lead characters is asexual.
Orla Smith 14:12
And weirdly, that's kind of in a way a kind of been a theme in the last two years of World Dramatic of the better films. I think Girl Picture was pretty ambiguous about whether the main cat what not went well. It followed three characters and one of them was basically questioning whether she was asexual or she just had like, experiences. Or whether teenage boys just suck. Yeah, exactly. And it didn't give you answers at the end, but it was a questioning asexuality storyline. And this is very much about someone who is like has decided that he is asexual and realize that about himself and is pretty confident about that, relatively speaking, even at the beginning of the film, which is really rare.
Alex Heeney 14:56
And it but it's told from the perspective of his romantic partner or who is a woman who is heterosexual? I don't think she's asexual. But the the film is, is interesting in its exploration of like, what is she getting from sex? And is she is what she's getting from sex really about sexuality? Or is it more about power or admiration or adoration or attention? And is that really what she wants? Or is what she wants, like tenderness and intimacy, which she gets from her asexual partner. But, you know, there's a lot of really interesting scenes where they kind of discuss or fight about sex or push the boundaries of sex, but like, it's not, I don't think either of them really know whether what they're talking about is really about sex. And it's big useless to us as an audience. Like, did you do that? Because you really wanted to have sex? Or did you do that? Because you like sex is for proving something or for power or something?
Orla Smith 16:12
Yeah. And it's, it's, like you said, She's, she's not a character who is asexual, but being in a relationship with an asexual person has really forced her to like, think about what, you know, what she gets out of sex, like you said, what sex means to her in a relationship, and whether it is essential? And what about it is essential, and like, whether she places what kind of like, the way she has sex and intimacy wrapped up as an interchangeable thing when it isn't necessarily. And
Alex Heeney 16:50
oh, it's like episode two of looking.
Orla Smith 16:54
And I did like that, like, the film has some of the scenes you might expect where, you know, sex is initiated without much communication, and there's confusion about what the other people want, but it doesn't like that, I found it refreshing the extent to which the characters like kind of do talk through things rather than it just being like, Oh, you're asexual, but I'm just gonna, like, force you into sex and not believe you. That's not her attitude to start with. But their relationship does become more and more complicated, as it becomes deeper and more intimate. And they both like have moments of like, questioning what they want to give to their partner. And like, he has moments where he's like, I'm just gonna, like, try to push through this and have sex to prove a point. And there
Alex Heeney 17:44
was no point where she were Yeah, he does that. But. And she's also annoyed by performative because her ex boyfriend is drunk and sleeping it off on their couch in the room. And it's extremely tight. You've initiated intercourse.
Orla Smith 17:59
Yes. And, and she feels weird about that. And then there are moments where she gets sexual in a way that makes him uncomfortable. And it's all about, like, you know, to what extent are they communicating? And are they being honest with themselves? And also, just once more thing that I really like, is when characters in movies have really specific jobs that you don't usually see in movies? Yeah. And I was like, Oh, cool. So a character is like a dancer who is in like a modern dance troupe, but like to make money she seems to freelance and she's doing this like short stint teaching a group of deaf kids to dance for this like camp thing. And she meets him because he's a freelance sign language interpreter who like interprets in various different scenarios throughout the movie, I think that's a sign of like, someone who's like, created a real like rich world and rich characters in their movie that like, they're not just like, she works in a cafe. He works here they meet because he walks into the cafe and they talk like that. There's, there's a lot of like, detail in their lives.
Alex Heeney 19:13
Yeah. It feels really lived in but they also, they're kind of well chosen jobs for these characters to explore this subject matter. Because the fact that she's a dancer means that the film is really interested in bodies, and the ways in which we interact with each other's bodies and touch and to what degree is her dance about? Sensuality or sexuality or you know, like she can touch and be tender with the people that she dances with? But, you know, how divorced is that from sexuality and then she so she's very, like somebody who's very much in her body, so you can understand that Why other expression like bodily expressions might be important to her not that like, whatever everybody can enjoy sex if they want to if they happen to be non asexual. But, like it kind of makes it fertile ground because we're exploring in the film the different ways in which she interacts with other bodies, not just with this one particular romantic partner. And likewise, like his role as an interpreter, is a sort of nice way of lifting up the theme that you're not theme, but like, the idea that the film is about communication, and the challenges of communicating things that are, like hard to talk about, like, could you imagine trying to translate the scenes that they have together? Like, yeah, good luck. Because yeah, they don't even quite know what they mean. So they wouldn't be able to put it into words. And we don't quite know what they mean, either. Because they don't know. And sometimes we may know more than they do. And, I mean, that's kind of what's that dance is part of what makes the film really rich and interesting is you can feel them. Like maybe they mean half of what they're doing, and maybe they don't. Yeah, like she clearly seems to, like she seems to feel that she would enjoy sex more if her partner was also enjoying sex. But then when you see, but But then she forces that with somebody that she knows, is asexual. So then she goes and tries to have sex with sexual partners, who with whom she has no intimacy, and you don't get the sense that she's getting lots of sexual pleasure out of it, that she's really enjoying it like it feels like obviously, you can have sex without intimacy, and it can be great. But that doesn't seem to be her experience in the film, when he has particular sexual partners, and some and there are times when she sabotages or almost sabotages her relationship with her romantic partner because she decides to, she's feeling insecure about like giving up sex and what that means. And so, yeah, that becomes a conflict in the film. And, yeah, so it has a nice way of like, respecting both of their sexualities and their feelings about it, and also about the way that they're uncomfortable or don't know how to navigate the fact that they care about this other person. And they don't want to push the other person into something they don't want. But that might be what they want might be counter to their own desires.
Orla Smith 22:55
And it does something that I've seen attempted in a few films, but it does it well in a way that I've never seen it done well, which is kind of turning like, everyday scenes into dance scenes.
Alex Heeney 23:09
Yes. And that intimacy too.
Orla Smith 23:12
Yeah. So So I've the one that that I know, seems at least twice, but in recent years, but the one that leads to mind is like a bad example of this was what was the name of that film? Spring? Boston. Was that
Alex Heeney 23:28
the bad one? Yeah, yeah. What?
Orla Smith 23:31
That's what it's called. Right? Yeah, yeah, Spring Blossom, which was like the Written and Directed by like a 17 year old or
Alex Heeney 23:37
the daughter of Vincent Lindon. And
Orla Smith 23:42
don't bounce on the dome. Yeah, Suzanne Lindon. And there's, like, there's like about three scenes in that where suddenly, like she's walking down the street, she has a little dance, to express how she's feeling. And Slow does that. I think also about three points where you'll be watching a scene and then suddenly the movements become just slightly more dance like, but not to an extent where it's like really, really drawing attention to itself to an extent that almost feels like natural movement, but it's just accentuated and choreographed to a slightly heightened extent. And it's done to sort of show you know, the relationship between bodies in a space and two characters relationship to each other, or group of characters relationship to each other. And really, for grounding that in the narrative, and I thought that it's done. They excuse me in such a natural and beautiful way in this film that didn't feel really cheesy in a way that I've seen it feel really cheesy in the past that it really did, like, fairly well done. Yeah.
Alex Heeney 24:57
Because I think the the, what you're describing Serving as dance or movement is sort of becomes part of their language of intimacy. And one of the ways that they, you know, connect to one another across a crowded room is through mimicking each other's movements, or one of the ways they show intimacy and care for one another. And connection is in the way that like, they do the dishes in time.
Orla Smith 25:26
Yeah. And they're both people who like for their jobs communicate through movement, that's a dancer, and his like, we see several scenes of him like doing interpretation for music videos. And though and you just see how much like how expressive he is, yeah, as a sign language interpreter, and how expressive you have to be in that job to convey tone, as well as meaning. And so it's in their nature, both as characters, and it's a joy to kind of see them also, like interact with movement. So yeah, I thought it was it was really well directed. I'm really excited to see what this director does next. Because in a way that not all Sundance filmmakers do, she's a real handle of like, choreographing actors working with that does framing basic filmmaking stuff. Yeah.
Alex Heeney 26:19
Yeah. Well, her first feature actually screened at TIFF a few years ago, I'm, I'm hoping we might be able to track it down. But that's kind of been a an interesting pattern this year is a bunch of people who had international filmmakers who previously screened films at TIFF are now at Sundance. There's another one in world dramatic for a film that is also one of those films that's like well made, but and well directed. And I feel like this director is one day going to make a film that I really like. haven't quite gotten there yet. But that's heroic, which is, which is a Mexican film by David. So Nana, and his first film workforce screened in the platform section at TIFF, which I love to complain about. And that was, I did not really like that film, it was sort of about class warfare, and it had a lot of lockdown shots, like very formal style, and it was like I can tell you, like know how to use a camera. But this, it was like a really long drawn out film that could have been a lot shorter and didn't really do anything I didn't expect. And the same is kind of true of heroic, but the his directorial style is more well suited to this, like in workforce, it was basically about a bunch of construction workers. And like the fiefdoms that happened within that an exploitation and heroic is about a man of, I guess, indigenous heritage, who ends up who I guess he's still he speaks his indigenous language in Mexico. And he go, he joins the Mexican army, it would seem basically for the health insurance because his mom has some kind of disease that has, I think, I think it's kidney disease and dialysis. But that has costly treatments. That is they say it's 2000 pesos a treatment and three times a week, so they can't afford it. And we figured that out about halfway through that that's why he joined the army. And maybe also because his dad was in the army and his dad has disappeared, and he's maybe hoping to connect with his dad. Maybe that's kind of vague. But anyway, the story the film is like, you know, reminded me a lot of the inspection in the sense that it's kind of, well, the inspection is a little bit gentler. But it's basically about how basic training in the army breaks you as a human being and involves torture and hazing. Which I will note is quite different from the documentary about this where the military for grudgingly allowed a documentarian to film the Canadian military in first stripes, which one of my takeaways from that movie was never join the military. But after that, like every film I've seen from anywhere else in North America says really, really don't join the military, if you want to be in the military, come to Canada. So it has a lot of interesting stuff going on. But it's really, really unpleasant to watch because of all the brutal violence. But I think it's a director David zonana is a director who is going to, you know, keep doing interesting work. And I think the film is interesting. I just kind of wish it was, I don't know, had something a bit more than Yeah, the military is bad, but people end up in the military because they are desperate. But on a happier note, I guess Is the film that we were both looking forward to which because it stars Harris Dickinson as a young dad, but playing much older than he is doing like romesco doing a Paul mescal is saying about five years older than he is. Yeah, well and like after son it's about a dad and his pre pubescent daughter with an absent mother. I mean, this one the mother's dead. Working class, so I don't know that seems to be a new genre of film or emerging from Britain or getting fun. At least. I quite liked it. I don't think you like we
Orla Smith 30:39
said the name of the film or the actor?
Alex Heeney 30:44
I'm not sure the film is
Orla Smith 30:46
called scrapper, and they're actually referring to is Harris Dickinson.
Alex Heeney 30:49
Yeah. One of our 50 screen stars of tomorrow. And despite starring in the palme d'Or winner triangle of sadness, people still don't seem to know who he is. Didn't get that buff. Just know. I know. And he deserved it. Yeah, he did. Yeah, we have huge
Orla Smith 31:08
heroic events, which we talked about at more length in the first episode this season. But he's great. And we were both really forward to Scrapper, like you said. And yeah, I think he liked it more than I did. I wasn't a huge fan. Although, you know, there are some good things about it. For example, Harris Dickinson is very good. He gets
Alex Heeney 31:30
to do comedy and drama, which I mean, when you get Harris Dickinson doing comedy, you have gold?
Orla Smith 31:37
Yes, he is a brilliant comedic force. All you have to do is watch only his scenes in Matthias and Maxime.
Alex Heeney 31:46
Like five minutes just skip over the rest of the film.
Orla Smith 31:49
You can skip it the rest is history is a very good yeah. Yeah, it's basically about a girl who lives according to the snaps in London. I don't know where that was. Oh, she lives I think in Dagenham and Dagenham, okay, I find the children Dagenham and her mother dies before the film begins. We meet her and she is living alone in her house and pretending to the authorities that she is in the care of her uncle. Which seems difficult
Alex Heeney 32:26
to pull her off about named Winston Churchill.
Orla Smith 32:29
Yes, the movie runs on some kind of whimsical logic. Yeah. And she manages to get away with convincing them that she's living with her uncle because when the authorities call, she gets the guy who works at the corner shop to record like individual lines into a tape recorder where he's like, George is doing fine, thank you. And stuff like that. And then enabling is. And then when the authorities call, she just plays the relevant clip from her tape recorder. And they're like, Thank you, Winston Churchill.
Alex Heeney 33:06
Which I think is the point where I fell in love with the film because I just love this girl. And I thought that was so clever. And and so I was willing to go with it on its whimsies which we probably both agree that they don't always work. I just Yeah, didn't mind it as much as you did. I think.
Orla Smith 33:25
I think the film was trying very hard to kind of have this very, like this very whimsical tone. Right down to like, kind of like almost like comic panel like things with like the spiders who live in her house
Alex Heeney 33:37
when there's like this weird sort of home video footage and of interviewing people who know her but it's unclear who's supposed to have been shooting this and why are we doing it in this style? And yeah, doesn't quite jive with the rest of the film, which is like somewhat whimsical as you say. But naturalistic, more like yeah,
Orla Smith 33:58
there are moments that feel quite realistic. But then there are also like, an and so when certain like important plot points, like rely on stuff that like kind of wouldn't be physically possible, such as convincing the authorities you live with an uncle called Winston Churchill just not realizing that you're young who doesn't exist. Yeah. And it doesn't quite always fit together. But this this young girl, Lola Campbell is her name that actress is really charming. And, and also given this performance that is, is very kind of grounded, but also does, you know, does work with the kind of whimsical time because she's very, this very, like confident little girl. And yet again, there are moments when it doesn't totally work, but it's never her fault. It's kind of the film's weird channel balancing, and then at some point Harris Dickinson arrives as her estranged father who I don't think she's ever met. And who's been living in Ibiza,
Alex Heeney 35:07
I think. I don't know if he's I don't know that he left before she was born. But he left when she was a baby.
Orla Smith 35:13
She doesn't remember him. Yeah, so he's been living his his fun life in Ibiza. He's about 30 now and then he he comes home and he's like, I guess this is my house now. And she is not having that. And
Alex Heeney 35:28
surviving by stealing bicycles, which is which leads to some very funny sequences.
Orla Smith 35:36
But it's and this is that's where the similarities between this and Aftersun do stop at 26 year old actor plays 30 something year old father of 12 year old girl
Alex Heeney 35:52
also he cautious girl also.
Orla Smith 35:56
Yeah, but I'm talking about that the character the character him so it's very different. Whereas whereas Paul mescal plays very comforting. Yeah, nice dad. Harris Dickinson plays kind of a dick, who is not at all grown up himself, and really has to learn to kind of be a parent throughout the film. I mean, I'm not saying he's like only
Alex Heeney 36:21
the flip side, but that is the Paul mescal character and after son is somebody who's had to bear the responsibility of being a parent since he was 16. So yeah, he has a lot of resentment and or how old is the kid in alpha? I guess if he's supposed to be 30. Maybe it was since he was 20 years.
Orla Smith 36:40
I think I think both these these characters are only supposed to be about like, I think Harris Dickinson is about is supposed to be 30. And this and Paul, my school is supposed to be 31. And after So okay,
Alex Heeney 36:50
so But the kids are about 12. So, yeah. So
Orla Smith 36:56
they Well, I mean, what you're saying is that Palmer schools character has borne the responsibility of being a parent and Harris Dickinson's character hasn't
Alex Heeney 37:03
right, which, you know, in after son, he's really weighed down by this. And that's why I don't know, I guess I shouldn't spoil this yet. But he's really depressed and the film is about his depression and suicidal ideation. And Harris Dickinson, by contrast, like, yeah, he's been a deadbeat dad for the last 12 years. But the flip side of that is he's had the opportunity to be a kid. And like, he still is a kid. But like, I think you're maybe more ready to be a dad. If you're starting it at 30. And you've had some time to live than having to figure out how to do it is at 18.
Orla Smith 37:44
Yes, although to be clear, he has majorly fucked up. Oh, yeah, he
Alex Heeney 37:48
has majorly fucked up and,
Orla Smith 37:51
like, good for him that he got to grow up. No, no, no, I know, that the mother didn't. And her his his, his daughter didn't get to
Alex Heeney 38:00
know No, I'm not excusing his behavior. Yeah, I am saying like she might be getting, like, if that's the
Orla Smith 38:08
10 years down the line, she might be getting a better dad or dad at all.
Alex Heeney 38:11
And she just got lucky that she had a great mom. Yes. But as you pointed out, it wasn't selfish of him to not do anything that most dads at least send money.
Orla Smith 38:22
Yes. And he basically spends the movie kind of amusingly making very poor excuses for himself before he learns how to communicate with his child and be her friend and also her father. And it's, it's, again, it's played in a way where he gets to play the sensitivity of that, but he also gets to play kind of the, like, very funny moments of his immaturity. Yeah. And Horace Dickinson is so good at capturing both of those things, and bringing them together.
Alex Heeney 39:00
And then the earnestness that he really wants to be there for his daughter. But doesn't really know how.
Orla Smith 39:08
Yeah, and I think he's, he's almost like, resistant to that in himself. Like he, I mean, it is a complicated character, because he shows up and he's, he kind of tries very vaguely to be nice to her and he understands that like being a parent is something that he should do. And he feels bad that her mom has said, and, but then he also like, when she is, you know, talks back to him. He's like, I guess thing I should do is like reprimand her and not understand that her anger is very justified. And he just has absolutely no idea like the way you're supposed to emotionally behave. Your child
Alex Heeney 39:56
storms in expecting the rights of a parent without having earned
Orla Smith 39:59
them Yes, exactly. That's it.
Alex Heeney 40:03
But, I mean, one of the things I do like about the whimsy in the film is that I think it kind of helps to, like there's a sadness behind it. So you kind of you're enjoying the funny things that are happening. But it's partly the things are funny, because that's their way of coping with the sadness. And it's nice to see a film that doesn't just want to be 100% bleak all the time. Yeah, so many of those. And like, one of the scenes of his immaturity is one of my favorite scenes in the film, where they're standing in a tube station. And they see this posh couple arguing across the, across the platform. And so he encourages his daughter to play the wife, and he's going to play the husband, and they have an imaginary conversation about what they imagined the posh people are arguing about. And they put on posh accents to do it. It's very funny. And then at the end, the posh couple across the across the platform are like, you know, we can hear you.
Orla Smith 41:07
Yeah, that's probably the startup scene of the film.
Alex Heeney 41:11
But I do think like, like, I agree with you that there's some things in the film that are stylistically a bit all over the map and don't quite work. Including the fact that like she's building a fort in her mother's bedroom to get to the sky where her mother is in this, because her mother told her she was in the sky, and she wants to she wants to break through the roof. And, yeah, kind of mentally, she's just smart kid that if that was really her plan, I don't think it would be to build a fort in her on the second floor of her house. Yeah, even if she really believed her mother was in the sky, and she had to climb up there, she would like go to London and go to a tall building, or something like I don't know, like a smart kid. But I do think that Charlotte Regan does a great job with the actors. And I also think there's a lot of really lovely blocking in the film, where she really uses the frame to show like the distance between characters and opposite that Reagan is the director of the film and the writer to show like the distance between the characters and like having to bridge the gap and the way that the girl is like close to her friend, but it takes a while before she and her father can be close together in the same frame. And the way that you should read and also like uses the walls in the what to call where they live house. Well, no, but it's like, like, not the house but like the area like because it's a bunch of townhouses and apartment buildings. You mean, like in a state, a state? Yeah, that's probably the word city uses the laws of this, like the sort of a state where they live as a way of kind of showing how people feel trapped, or also how small their worlds are, or intimacy or lack thereof. And so there's some really smart use of the locations to also tell the story, the emotional story of what's going on with the characters. So yeah, it feels like a first feature, but I think there's a lot of good stuff going on in here. And it's not just that Harris Dickinson is going to class up anything. Yeah. I liked it more than you did, but
Orla Smith 43:30
you liked when it melts? Um,
Alex Heeney 43:33
yes. It's hard to say when it melts, when when it melts is a movie about a, like 12 year old who gets sexually sexually assaulted by her best male friend.
Orla Smith 43:47
You appreciated some of the things that went up mounts does.
Alex Heeney 43:51
Yeah. It's, it's very smart. I think about the weird sort of girl sexuality that happens when you're on the cusp of puberty, where, like, some of your friends are going through puberty, but maybe you aren't quite yet. And it's a film in which it's about this girl who's kind of a tomboy and her her two best friends are boys and they call themselves The Three Musketeers. And, and, you know, they're inseparable. But then one summer, the boys are sort of a little bit further into puberty than she is. And suddenly they're interested in girls and they're interested in sex. And that means that she kind of gets excluded from the club. And more than like, worse than that, is that you know, they basically teach her that the only value A girl has and therefore that she has is as a sexual object. And they recruit her in these really gross sexually exploitive games that they play with the girls in the town. Like basically the game is As you know, we're going to tell you a riddle. And if you every time you guess wrong, you have to take off an item of clothing. But if he gets it right, then we'll give you some amount of money. And they pick really hard riddles so that the girls have to get naked. And the girls don't feel comfortable doing this unless their female friend is there, the star of the film. So she, she becomes complicit in their harassment of these girls. And the film starts off in the present day. And she's now like, I don't know, in her late 20s or early 30s. And I think the girl who caused this problem, and one of the boys is now getting married. And there's going to be a memorial for the boy's brother who died when they were, like years ago, back before the summer that we see in flashbacks. So she decides to go home, and I don't know confront her past ish. But she's like a really unhappy, depressed person who doesn't really know how to have social interactions, because she's been traumatized by what's happened to her. And the film keeps showing us flashbacks as she goes back to the town and interacts with people to explain the backstory of what happened that one summer to fuck her up for the rest of her life. So I think the film is really smart and sensitive, and how it deals with those flashbacks. And I haven't seen a lot of films that are kind of about being in the present moment of sexual assault as a as a as a child. Like we have films like The Tale, which is about reflecting on how messed up those memories are. Or slalom about you know, a 16 year old 16 year old girl or Guna, about an adult who was raped as a 10 or 11 year old, but it's her adult memory looking back and this film, The those scenes from the past don't really feel like memories, they feel like proper flashbacks. And so it's partly about the confusion of like, not fully like being uncomfortable, but not fully understanding what's going on. And what she's complicit in and what her friends are doing and not and not that she's rewritten history to make it okay, but that she's navigating this and doesn't know how to and gets traumatized by it and kind of stuck in the moment of trauma. So I think that stuff is all really good is just, the film doesn't really do much more than that. It doesn't really deal with her as an adult, aside from the fact that she's really unhappy, and it shows her being unhappy.
Orla Smith 47:54
Yeah, speaking of sexual repression, slash drama. I guess the only other word dramatic we haven't talked about that we've seen so far as mama cruise. And I won't linger on it too long, because it's been a so when I have the least to say about of all of these. It was one of the first films I saw of and it is fine. It's a Spanish film. And it's about an older woman who is like it well, the inciting incident is she gets an iPad and accidentally gets like a porn pop up on her iPad. And she is very religious and lives in like a very religious community. And she even her like job is to like, dress up like the wood carvings the statues of like Jesus and the Virgin Mary that are in the church, her local church. So yeah, suffice to say she's very repressed. And the movie is basically about her discovering porn and masturbation, and then joining like a sex therapy group. But the problem with that, I suppose, is that I've just spoken about it for a minute there and you already know exactly what happens in the film. Yeah. Because it kind of
Alex Heeney 49:33
that's a problem. I mean, not just NASA it's like a lot of festival films. Yeah. But
Orla Smith 49:38
it is a Sundance that that film has one idea and I think the problem with this film and several films I think scene is that you The movie begins. You can kind of vaguely map out all the beats of the film yeah head and it kind of plays out that way. So you know, I appreciate the film was about the best parts of it. Are when she is within this group. And you get the interactions between these different women who are all like, you know, introducing each other to their favorite sex toys. And like talking through their issues, because the problem with this main character is she is so repressed and so quiet, she isn't someone who have kind of really voiced her feelings. And so the movie only really comes to life in the scenes where she is amongst these kind of more lively women. And I just don't it has those pockets of energy. I don't think it necessarily does a ton with them has a kind of fun final image. But yeah, I didn't, I wasn't so hot on it. But it certainly wasn't, you know, a terrible film.
Alex Heeney 50:51
I just realized that actually saw one other world dramatic film that I already forgot about. So that's how you know how good it is. Which is girl British film. I won't say much about it. Aside from that. It was nice to see a British film that was about black characters in Scotland, right? Yes, it is in Glasgow. And it's about Yeah, it's about black characters who mostly interact with black characters, which we don't see enough of in British
Orla Smith 51:25
that. We will see it in Sundance later in the festival with Riley. Yeah, which is very excited to see it set in South London.
Alex Heeney 51:33
So I mean, unfortunately, it's a film that is another one idea film and it also has sexual trauma in it, of course, and a woman who became mother too young, because it's Sundance. But my big takeaway from it is I'm excited about the cinematographer Tasha back, because it's beautifully, really beautifully lit, beautifully shot. And so I think this is her first feature as a cinematographer, she's done some TV, and she's done some shorts, and she's worked as a camera, an assistant in the camera department, but now she's a DP and I think she's a she's some little someone to watch.
Orla Smith 52:23
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Alex Heeney 53:23
I feel like we should talk about fancy dance because it's a rare film to screen at Sundance that is written and directed by an indigenous filmmaker about indigenous characters starring indigenous actors.
Orla Smith 53:39
Yes, and it says Billy godstone
Alex Heeney 53:42
Orla Smith 53:43
Alex Heeney 53:44
with appearance from Crystal lightning who we were, we are big fans of.
Orla Smith 53:50
Yes. And speaking of DPS, I'm a big fan of the DP of this film Carolyn Acosta. Who Who shot oh, yes, she shot workforce that film that you were talking earlier in the episode. Yeah. And she shot Harleigh, which was slightly better looking than a American indie usually is. And free, and she she and she shot crystal Swan, which was a beautiful film.
Alex Heeney 54:20
She's really worked all over the place.
Orla Smith 54:23
Yes. And she was shot. This film dancer, the 41, which is a Mexican film, Netflix film, all right, two years ago, which I also thought looked very nice. So chic, but all of those films really like have quite distinct and different aesthetics. And it's also covering a range of different countries. So I think her work is really interesting. And I I was watching fancy dance, and I thought this does look, you know, again, better than an American usually does. And there you go, Carolyn Acosta.
Alex Heeney 54:59
Oh, Um, I guess the big draw for us for this film was Lily Gladstone because we she was one she was also one of our 50 screen stars of tomorrow from 2021 alongside Harris Dickinson, I think this is the first time she's been back at Sundance with a feature film since certain women, though she said she was
Orla Smith 55:21
back with a short film by this director. Yeah, a few years ago, she she had a short film called little cheap, and Sundance in 2020, which I did watch at that time. And I thought that their film, it was a film that showed promise, but you know, I wasn't immediately like, oh, Erica Trombley is, you know, the next big talent, but I really think that she has, you know, delivered something really interesting with this film. And also, like, used Lily Gladstone really well, which I'm very grateful for because not enough people are using Lily Gladstone. And so,
Alex Heeney 55:59
uh huh. That's for sure. So yeah, the film is about Lily Gladstone's character Jax, who is suddenly caring for her. Almost pubescent niece, Roque Roki, who is actually played by an indigenous actress who I think is Canadian. She's because funnily enough, she plays crystal lightnings daughter on the TV show, Three Pines.
Orla Smith 56:26
I thought she was really good. She
Alex Heeney 56:27
is really wonderful. She was really great Isabel DeRoy Olson,
Orla Smith 56:33
and he's paying I think, a 14 and a half she
Alex Heeney 56:34
is, which is why she's just getting her period. So I guess Yeah, but younger, but
Orla Smith 56:40
but I think she said at some point, she was 14, but I might be misremembering.
Alex Heeney 56:45
So they live on the Seneca Cayuga reservation in Oklahoma. And it's nice to see that this is one of the films that's in the sort of, I guess, newer pattern of actually hearing indigenous languages in a film that is indigenous because of course, part of what's happened with colonialism is there's been huge language loss among indigenous communities and nations. And you know, 10 years ago, when rhymes for young girls was made, it was pretty rare to see people actually speaking their language and the film, which happened in that film. And now we're seeing more and more films that not only do you have people speaking the language, but talking about it and talking about the need for language revitalization and talking about the loss of language like that was a big part of run woman run Canadian film by solely Hopkins. Yes. talked about on the podcast.
Orla Smith 57:46
And I interviewed so early Hopkins as well. Yeah. And actually, this is something that we Gladstone herself has just as a person is really passionate about Yes, because I, I interviewed her and it was a wonderful interview. We will link to it in the show notes. And I interviewed her specifically about her work with Kelly Reichardt. So we talked a lot about certain women, but specifically, I was talking to her about her part in first cow, which is a much smaller part, but a really significant part. And there's a lot of nuance in that part, because she plays she plays a translator between the indigenous language that she's speaking and Toby Jones speaking English, and she also has his his wife. And and there's a lot in that like one scene part that's nuanced about the way that she is translating his words. And so I got into a really fascinating conversation with other Gladstone about translation, and about like, her passion for like, thinking about indigenous languages in translation, and how she said that if she hadn't been an actress, she would have been a like, studied linguistics. And so yeah, that's, I really recommend reading that because she is. She's so smart and thoughtful and how she talks about acting and language and everything.
Alex Heeney 59:18
And that's in our ebook on Kelly railcards. Films, roads to know where Kelly records broken American dreams. Which you can get it right guard book.com Yeah, I'm so glad you picked up on my setup, because that was the whole point of that preamble was for you to talk about your interview.
Orla Smith 59:39
Yeah, yeah. I really love it. And to me, I would say it's a very stressful film. It's about kind of events, and bad things piling up and up and up into increasingly stressful situations. But it also finds like more moments to slow down and have very tender moments between the league Gladstone's character and her niece, it takes place or with the film begins shortly after the disappearance of the league. Gladstone's sister, who is the mother of the next character. The nice is called Voki. And, and so it's kind of it's set in the wake of that and leading up to the community's powwow, which was a, you know, like the nice Rokia is super excited about and she would attend every year with her mother and they would always win the mother and daughter dance. And it's kind of like Lily Gladstone is telling her niece that her mother will be back any day now. And we'll definitely be at the powwow while she also knows that, you know, indigenous women going missing is very common, and they rarely show up again. So it's actually there's another there's a series in the at Sundance this year could murder at Big Horn, which is like a documentary a docu series about missing and murdered indigenous women. And this is like a kind of fiction tackling of that issue. And I think it does it a lot better, like it's a lot better at through character exploring kind of the systemic issues that lead to women being going missing and being murdered. And so there's a bunch of threads going on in the film, Lily Gladstone is constantly investigating her sister's disappearance, because the police are doing nothing to help. Her half brother is also a police officer. And so you get that perspective of him being part of the system. And like, also, you know, wanting to push back against the system slightly, but also playing into it to an extent. And then at the same time, the authorities take Roki away from her aunt, because she has a criminal record, and plays her with regard stones, white father and the woman that he remarried with after the gas stones mother died. And there's a very tense relationship between them because he basically kind of like, completely left the reservation, after his ex wife died and doesn't, like isn't super committed to keeping ties with his family, even as he professes to care about them. And so she kidnaps her niece to take her to the powwow and the authorities don't like that. And so they essentially are on the run while she's investigating this disappearance. And they said things get increasingly stressful. As like, all these pressures that Lily Gladstone's character faces just build and compound on to each other. But I did. I, I also appreciated how, like I said, the movie finds moments to show the tenderness between her and her niece. And like, why they're so important to each other. And like, there's a moment when Roki gets her first period. And so they kind of have to stop there mad dash, and she has to kind of, you know, talk to her about what's going on. And then they also they celebrate it.
Alex Heeney 1:04:05
And they do ceremony for it before. I mean, yes, they go out for cake and sweets, but before that, yeah, and
Orla Smith 1:04:11
she orders or she wants more like can I have the pancakes with strawberry? Can I have the waffles with strawberry? Can I have the strawberry cake? Oh, no. So do you have anything for celebrations like okay. It's very sweet.
Alex Heeney 1:04:31
Yeah, I mean, as far as I know, I think this is the first American film feature film about missing and murdered indigenous women.
Orla Smith 1:04:41
I'm not aware of another one. There may be one
Alex Heeney 1:04:43
and they're like, they're, I mean, it's something that there have been. There's been at least one feature in Kent in Canada, which is rustic Oracle, which we've talked about on our indigenous ya podcast, which also a road trip also a roadtrip movie because guess what the cops do nothing. And if you want to find the missing person, you have to do it yourself. But that film, really fantastic film is sort of about a, like a more of a middle class family. And this film is about more of is about what it's like to be lower down on the economic ladder and how that makes this even more challenging. When you can't afford like a hotel or food or gas. You don't have a car. So it was interesting to see that perspective. I mean, it's certainly I'd recommend checking out Restek article, which is available worldwide on VOD is a really great film, a really fantastic film, but I guess they're like the US is suddenly having a moment about media about missing and murdered indigenous women because in the last year we have had so there's the American series, Alaska daily, which was shot in BC and is well a lot of these are actually all of these that I'm going to talk about the US has taught me a moment about are all made by settlers, and have settlers stars, but there was Alaska daily in which is like produced by the guy who made spotlight and it stars Hilary Swank. But it co stars Grace dove who we loved in Monkey Beach. She is an indigenous actress from Canada
Orla Smith 1:06:36
may know her as we're not a DiCaprio is dead wife and the Revenant.
Alex Heeney 1:06:41
Right. Also that Oh, look. There's another connection. Everybody has gotten married.
Orla Smith 1:06:47
Oh, yeah. Leonardo godstone coming soon. Yeah. Lily Gladstone
Alex Heeney 1:06:51
married to Leonardo DiCaprio.
Orla Smith 1:06:54
I feel like I said this before, when I thought the movie would come out last year. But my prediction is, in a year's time, Lily Gustin will have an Oscar.
Alex Heeney 1:07:02
I hope so like about time, where's her Oscar for certain women? Yeah, but
Orla Smith 1:07:10
I'm on the record.
Alex Heeney 1:07:14
There's also been the Canadian TV show Canadian British CO production, Three Pines, which is not about missing and murdered indigenous women. But there's a ongoing storyline about it throughout that. And Crystal lightning plays the sister of Oh no, I think the mother of a girl who's gone missing. And the daughter who is she has two daughters and her daughter who isn't missing is played by Isabel DeRoy Olson, who plays the daughter in fancy dance. And then of course, there's murder at Bighorn. All of those are made by settlers. But I mean, so they all have their problems as far as how they address missing and murdered indigenous women and colonialism and all of that.
Orla Smith 1:08:03
And then you have reservation. Pardon? Then you have reservation ducks.
Alex Heeney 1:08:08
Yes, but does that deal with missing and murdered indigenous women?
Orla Smith 1:08:12
Oh, no, I was talking about indigenous like mainstream TV shows in general but no, I don't I don't I don't know if it does. I haven't seen no one's
Alex Heeney 1:08:23
better indigenous. It's made by and started indigenous actors, every Jacob people Yes. Who made a short film about missing and murdered indigenous women like six years ago, or more that I think was produced by Jeff Barnaby.
Orla Smith 1:08:39
One really great thing about fancy dance is like, I feel like that, especially when they're made by settlers. There's a lot of like narratives around indigenous people in films that I like, isn't this miserable. They all having a terrible time? Reserves terrible, or like,
Alex Heeney 1:09:02
fault they went missing because they drink or they do drugs or they sell drugs and they come from a broken home or something like that without any context as to how that is not their fault colonialism.
Orla Smith 1:09:19
But even outside of the context of missing and murdered indigenous women. Yeah, like I think about what's that fucking movie called? Songs my brothers taught me
Alex Heeney 1:09:31
that which is a good descriptor
Orla Smith 1:09:34
which is basically like poverty porn or reserve. And, and what I liked really liked about fancy dance was then, like, it does such a good job of showing how like, the connection to her community is so good and nourishing for the nice. Yeah, and how she and how it's traumatic for her to be taken to her white grandparents. Yeah, hoo hoo. Like, well,
Alex Heeney 1:10:00
Orla Smith 1:10:02
they're really well, I think they're really well written characters because they are not like, super evil. They're just white people who really do not understand why connection to the community is important for their granddaughter, anyone I
Alex Heeney 1:10:16
send from her life. Yeah. Like they have made no attempt to be in her life.
Orla Smith 1:10:22
And like, the the grandfather character who basically just, he talks about, like, well, I did my time living on the reserve, you sent me to stay there, you know, like, and he and the interesting thing about them is they do this really terrible thing, which is when Lily Gladstone, kidnaps her niece. Basically, she leaves a note, she's like, I'm just taking her to the power. I'll be gone a couple days. And this is their daughter, but they call and Lily Gladstone assumes that they weren't called the police on her because these are her parents. But they do
Alex Heeney 1:10:55
that mom, yes,
Orla Smith 1:10:57
Anna stepmom, but they do because they're just they're settlers who weren't who are very tied to the rules of, you know, colonial society. And like, we must follow the rules. The rules are important. We must call the police on our daughter. And it's,
Alex Heeney 1:11:15
well, I mean, the flip side of that, too, is they some, there are some good intentions in that even if it results in bad actions. Because of Yeah, because first, like there, there are questions about whether Jack's Lilly Gladstone's character is really equipped to be a parent right now. And whether or not the girl would have Rocchi would have a more stable home with her grandparents. But whether but the trauma that might be, you know, like, whatever Jackson's failings or difficulties may be may outweigh the trauma of separating Rocchi from her identity.
Orla Smith 1:11:55
But there's not really a discussion about that, like it, she simply ripped from her home because of the rule that you cannot stay with her because she has a criminal record, right? But it's not actually like, really a decision made based on observing Oh, no, no, no, godstone is a appropriate parent.
Alex Heeney 1:12:15
It's 60 scoop all over again, which is the thing that happened in Canada where indigenous people were to indigenous children or moved from their indigenous parents and sent to live with Yeah, white people they didn't know.
Orla Smith 1:12:27
And then when when Roki went when Roque is taken away from from Jax, Jax actually, Lee says to them, you you can't do that there are rules about like taking indigenous children away from their community and giving them to white people. And they were like, well, you know, you have white relatives, so we can get around that.
Alex Heeney 1:12:50
Yeah. Well, and I mean, I think why where the film is, is smart to give the nuances. The challenge here is that the grandparents are aware that if they screw up roky could be sent to live with a complete stranger. So one of the reasons they call the cops is because they don't want her to become completely disconnected from her community. They just don't understand how traumatic it is already to be with them. So they're in a difficult position, like they don't
Orla Smith 1:13:24
understand why I'm having the power.
Alex Heeney 1:13:28
You know, it's I think it's less about them being horrible and more about the systems being unforgiving. And yeah, put in, you know, they they signed doc, they signed paperwork, saying that, you know, that she couldn't take them away, and they were responsible. And she couldn't have unsupervised visits with rookies. So like, yeah, you can understand why they would do this. It's they're not like they're and what's great is they're not villains. They're flawed, they screwed up. They're, you know, they misjudged the situation and didn't understand the significance of the consequences of their actions.
Orla Smith 1:14:11
And they have a lot more trust in the system. Yeah. So then the indigenous children and grandchildren do and the
Alex Heeney 1:14:18
more trust than they should have. They don't really understand what that what they've done. They don't think it's gonna be as bad as it is. And I think it's nice that you have a film where it illustrates because it's kind of like the best case scenario of if you had to be torn away from your family and sent to your family you didn't know at least these are people who are well meaning ish. I mean, it like
Orla Smith 1:14:45
best case scenario, but that could be could be
Alex Heeney 1:14:47
a lot worse. Yeah. So it really lets you see the rock and a hard place that it puts people in
Orla Smith 1:14:56
and that they're not they don't understand how like important Like go into the power hours. Yeah, for example. Yeah. Very key. They don't get it. Yeah, huge. They're like, we're kind of busy this weekend so that they don't understand. It's something that like, they really need to make the effort for. Because they, they don't understand what the importance of connection to your community as an indigenous person, they just think it's just like, you know, moving to a different town.
Alex Heeney 1:15:27
Yeah, they're like, it's really important to us that you keep your connections to your culture. Your cultures are, you're not even I don't think they say it as nicely as that it's like, your we know, your culture is important to you as though it's like a thing that's in a box. You can take out when it's convenient as as opposed to part of her identity. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, the film has some kind of outlandish things that happen that feel a little bit like in the movie, Sundance dreams believability, but where it has like, but it's also like minor missteps. It's not enough that I would say the movie is like, it does so many things so well, that I think
Orla Smith 1:16:06
the reason that also like something that the one of the reasons it has those problems is because unlike most honest films, it's like so full of ideas. Yeah, like it has has a ton to say, and it's trying to fit all of that into 90 minutes. And it is, you know, it's dealing with like, again, this like, investigation of a missing persons case, while also like the relationship with the nice and the traveling to the powwow and the importance of that, and then dynamics within the family. And yeah, and you're so weird and exactly dancing hacking. It's it. Yeah, it's packing so much into kind of like a thriller plot. Yeah. And while also finding like moments of respite like like the sequence where she gets her period and the caffeine and all these like moments where the film actually does slow down. Yeah. And, and
Alex Heeney 1:16:59
it's really a character film, even though it has, as you say, sort of like roadtrip and thriller plot, it manages to still be a character drama that is mostly about Jax and Rocky, but the other characters around them feel very three dimensional and filled out even if they're, you know, relatively small parts.
Orla Smith 1:17:22
Yeah, exactly. And I really, I just I thought it was really impressive, especially for a feature debut. And I at Sundance, I'm always welcome for a film with too many ideas. Rather than a film with not enough. Yeah, you know
Alex Heeney 1:17:38
why? It's also a film that it has too many ideas, but it doesn't feel like it was a film that like they needed a budget for a mini series and couldn't get it. Like it feels like it's a feature film. It
Orla Smith 1:17:50
doesn't feel to overstuff. No, but it thing I think like because it's doing so much there are some, like you said moments history and believability. Like it's not perfect. But I think it also it's, it's structured quite neatly, to like, slot all these narratives into each other like they it it works. And that's you know, it's impressive to balance that much, you know? Yeah. So yeah, we're big that's one of my favorites so far. So yeah,
Alex Heeney 1:18:20
I've seen that and slower are too strong feature recommendations. Well, I Spy feature I mean, fixation feature. Yeah. Fiction
Orla Smith 1:18:31
feature. Yeah. Well, do you talk about the ducks? I mean, I think my favorite film that I've seen at the festival so far, is this film in the US Jamar in the news dramatic in the US DOT competition could a still small voice, which was directed by Luke Lorenson. I think it's his second feature second or third. And it's a documentary that is so there's it's difficult to describe it's it's sort of in the creative nonfiction vein, but it's it's not necessarily so much like formally or structurally like inventive as it is just like, it's it's shot. So with such formal precision that you you're kind of like there are sequences, I have no idea how they shot them because they look like they were shot with like a four camera setup if they happen, like in real time, but apparently he had one camera. I don't know how he did it. But anyway, this this guy, Luke Lawrence, and basically he had I think he had a friend who was working as a hospital chaplain, which is essentially you know, the, the job that you do when you're in a hospital and people need spiritual care if they're sick or dying. And so he decided that would be an interesting subject for a film and basically for a year followed this group I have of aspiring hospital chaplains who were in a residency, and also their mentor. And he over the course of that year, he kind of zeroed in on this one woman Matty as his his subject. And so we basically in the film over a period of time, follow her as she speaks with various patients. And then every week they have this group session with the I think it's for residents, and then mentor, who, and they're these extraordinarily like, emotionally open conversations, where these people have to be so articulate, and analytical about their own emotions. And the idea being that they are providing this extraordinary like, empathy to these people going through like, horrible emotional experiences in hospital. And then they come together in this residency group, in order to like, talk through how that emotional labor is making them feel. And then they also have one to one conversations with their mentor. And then the film also follows the one to one conversations that their mentor has with his own mentor therapist, and his discussions about like how being a mentor is emotionally draining on him. And so the film kind of tracks this, you know, the emotional energy it takes to care for people and then the care that you then in turn need from other people in order to keep caring, and just how difficult it is to maintain that cycle, especially in a strange medical system. And how the hospital chaplains as much as like their mentor may try and not receiving as much care and space as they need. And at the same time, you have this, you know, tracking how this woman Mattie is struggling with veal, like her own trauma that's brought up by the conversation she has with patients. And the way it makes her think about like her belief or lack of a belief in God. Because she the job is in nature spiritual and she tends to people who are very religious and people who aren't and she herself is very unsure about her own feelings towards spirituality. So the film is kind of, it's dealing with a lot of different things that mean kind of core of it being like what it takes to care for and empathize for other people. And it's so beautifully made and so moving and I just really like an It's so impressive and it's construction as a documentary. And again, I don't know like how he put this together. It's kind of in the way that you you know, sometimes watch like the long extended scenes in Frederick Wiseman films and you're like, I don't know how like he managed this coverage and knew exactly where to where to point his camera and when. And yeah, I really really loved it, I would highly recommend it. i It's It's definitely set a high standard for me, so I'm curious to see if anything is going to surpass it in the festival.
Alex Heeney 1:23:39
This is our second podcast season about a film festival. So if you're enjoying the Sundance 2023 season you may also be interested in catching up with our women at Cannes season from May 2022, where we focus more on the history of the Cannes Film Festival, and its track record or lack thereof are programming films directed by women. You can find info about the season and episodes on all the episodes for the season at seven dash rho.com/women at Cannes. You can also scroll back in our podcast, feed and find all of the episodes in that season, which at the moment are still free to everyone.
Orla Smith 1:24:22
So this is a section of the sun. That's podcast we'll be doing hopefully every episode. It's called Sundance bingo. If you've seen us have been through social media feeds, you might have seen the amazing bingo card that Alex made. That is always a lot of fun every year. So we kind of you know feel like the Sundance programming can be a little bit samey.
Alex Heeney 1:24:47
They have slots and they filled them.
Orla Smith 1:24:50
Exactly. And so you after you're like you said 10 years of covering Sundance, I've kind of like gotten a good gauge of what those slots are. and put together this bingo card of themes that tend to show up at Sundance. And the idea is as you go along, watching your films cross off which sections and then I bet you'll have a bingo by the end. So we will be crossing off as we go.
Alex Heeney 1:25:15
Yeah, I made a different card last year also for the festival, and then I did it for this year. But honestly, like, if you have seen any Sundance films in your life, and you make a list of them, you will probably be able to fill out this bingo card.
Orla Smith 1:25:33
So so far, I've crossed the four sections online. Yeah, I've got patriarchy set. Okay. Patriarchy sucks is one that you usually like, we'll have multiple films that apply. Yeah.
Alex Heeney 1:25:48
As for Mama crews,
Orla Smith 1:25:51
this was mama Chris. Yes. And then we have indigenous story directed by assessor which is very film we haven't talked about yet, because I don't believe the embargo has broken but it's it's twice gone on colonized. And, you know, I don't think it's under embargo that that is an indigenous film directed by a settler. And you are to get British world dramatic film twice. Once Yeah, yes. I have scrapper. You have scrapper and girl. And then and then we have middle aged woman makes dubious sexual choices, the film that fits that we talked about in the last episode and spotlight that would be other people's children.
Alex Heeney 1:26:28
Yeah, I guess I get oh, I guess I get that slot too. So I have five.
Orla Smith 1:26:34
Oh, yeah. And what's that? What ones do you have that I don't have.
Alex Heeney 1:26:37
So I have climate change is bad drama. And that's where blueback where me iLASIK osko plays a marine biologist who's worried about coral bleaching, and a bunch of other stuff that's happening to the land and the marine environment because of climate change. It's a smart move, because it's not like just a preachy thing. But anyway, we'll talk about it in a later episode. But that's where I get that, that x, and then rape culture for when it melts. Well, I guess also, I mean, how many movies are there where somebody gets sexually assaulted? So I think you could also argue heroic is about partly about rape culture.
Orla Smith 1:27:22
You could argue that any film about rape culture is also about patriarchy sucks.
Alex Heeney 1:27:26
That's true. Usually, patriarchy sex, though, is like they're the films that usually fall our pick where we pick that as like, there's some man doing something horrible, or somebody faces really bad sexism. And I wouldn't say I've seen a film that where that's like, the central tenet. So we've seen some dark spots that almost fit the boundary pushing docks in next except they didn't quite push enough boundaries, or they weren't very good. So we weren't doing
Orla Smith 1:27:55
that. I'm sure they'll be one. Well, I think she'll leave it to be with him. And I guess you didn't finish the Tuba Thieves. Because yeah, even if you didn't like it, that sounds like it was pushing some.
Alex Heeney 1:28:07
That's true. Okay, I guess I can get half of a square for that.
Orla Smith 1:28:13
But I'm still I'm also waiting on a couple films in next documentaries that I think maybe, maybe won't fit that.
Alex Heeney 1:28:18
Yeah. So we'll put a link in the show notes to the bingo card. And you can also find it on our social media on Twitter and Instagram at seven throw us ENTHROW If you're playing along at home, please use the hashtag Sundance bingo so we can follow your own bingo cards and or tag guess. So that's the end of our discussion of our latest from our latest dispatch from Sundance of films we've seen. There are a bunch of episodes in our archives that we think might be of interest to you, if you were interested in some of the things we talked about in this discussion. So first off, we're now on episode three of our Ascendance, 2023 seasons, so it's a good time to catch up on Episode one where we preview the festival, and episode two, where we talk about the festivals spotlight program, which is the one program dedicated to films that have screened at other festivals, but maybe didn't quite get the attention they deserved. We raved about fancy dance in this episode, which is about missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. And there's another great film that addresses this topic fiction film out of Canada. And that film is rustic Oracle by Sonya abuelo. And we actually talked about that on one of our two episodes on indigenous way out of Canada and this one is in Episode 63 Part two, and that episode is only available to members. We also We talked a bit about how we're on the lookout for creative nonfiction at the festival and Orla talked about still small voice which kind of fits into that category. And so if you're interested in hearing about Sundance and a bit more about the history of Sundance programming of creative nonfiction, we actually talked about that in our Sundance 2022 episode on creative nonfiction, which is episode 123. And I believe that's still free to everyone. And you know, any anything else that we mentioned for films that we've talked about before in the past, including our coverage of past Sundance film festivals you can find in our podcast archives. But episodes that are older than six months are generally only available to members and many new episodes are also only available to members. So if you'd like to catch up with those episodes, we recommend becoming a member, which you can do at seven dash rho.com/join. Finally, we, we want to put out a plea if you would, please rate and review the episode. I discovered today that if we want to list the seven throw podcast on Rotten Tomatoes, we need at least 200 ratings. And we're 150 Plus away from that. So if you want to go and hit five stars for the episode, and also the podcasts, that would be huge for us, we'd also actually helps in a very material material way. Yeah, like if we get indexed on Rotten Tomatoes for the podcast that'll bring a lot of new listeners and mean that films that nobody has heard of, that we talked about on the podcast, will get will show up on Rotten Tomatoes when someone's looking for them. And we'd also you know, if you have things to say we would really love to get a review, we cherish every review we get of the podcast, even the nasty ones, or the angry ones.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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