Sundance Short Film lineup includes Malia Obama debut

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival kicked off Jan. 18 in Park City, Utah.

2024 Sundance Film Festival - General Atmosphere
PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 18: A general view of the Prospector Square Theatre during 2024 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2024 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)Credit: Photo byMatt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Sundance Film Festival is finally here, its Short Film lineup features must-see projects including Malia Obama’s short debut!

The Sundance Institute’s beloved film festival returns to Park City, Utah, this week, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the festival, “bringing together audiences in Utah and beyond to celebrate Sundance’s rich history of supporting engaging new stories and groundbreaking independent artists.” Its successful Short Film program has helped the careers of many filmmakers including Nikyatu Jusu, A.V. Rockwell, and more.

2024 Sundance Film Festival - General Atmosphere
A general view of the Prospector Square Theatre during 2024 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 18, 2024, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images) – Credit: Photo byMatt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

This year’s short film competition slate continues to showcase diverse storytelling, including Obama’s debut. Submitted under the name Malia Ann, “The Heart” follows a lonely man “grieving the death of his mother after an argument about groceries and an odd request in her will.” Starring Tunde Adebimpe and LaTonya Borsay, the film is competing under the U.S. Short Fiction Films banner.

Another film on our radar competing in the U.S. Short Fiction category is “Grace,” from filmmaker Natalie Jasmine Harris. “Sixteen-year-old Grace prepares for her baptism in the rural 1950s South,” the official description reads. “When she learns she must repent before the ritual, she begins to question the budding romantic feelings she has toward her best friend, Louise.” The film stars Jordan Rayanna Wells, Alexis Cofield, Mikayla LaShae Bartholomew, C L Simpson and JeVon Blackwell.

As for International Short Films, we are keeping our eyes on multiple entries, including “Essex Girls” (U.K.). “After an incident at her high school pulls her into the orbit of the only other Black girl in her year, ‘Essex Girl’ Bisola is plunged into a journey to discover a whole new side of herself,” the synopsis reads.

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“Dreams like paper boats” (Haiti) is another entry we are looking out for, centering on a father and daughter who “live with a cassette received from his wife in the United States, a long time ago. After years of absence, what can we expect from a distant love?”

“Terra Mater” (Rwanda) is another narrative short film to check out. “Technology and waste in our lands, systems, and bones. Here she stands, confidently, like a goddess surrounded by endless mountains of plastic, stench, and rare earths. She cannot help but wonder, where is the space for healing?”

For more on the Sundance Film Festival, the full list of short films selected and ticketing information, head to the official site here.

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