The 2022 Sundance Film Festival lineup of features, documentaries, shorts, and episodic series was released Dec. 9 and 10, selected from 14,849 submissions, including 3,762 feature-length films. Across this field, CalArts continues a strong tradition of representation by prominent faculty and alums with new, independent works. The full slate of films is scheduled to screen both in-person and digitally at the festival, which runs Jan. 20-30.
“This year, we look forward to celebrating this generation’s most innovative storytellers as they share their work across a wide range of genres and forms,” said Robert Redford, Sundance Institute founder and president in a release announcing this year’s festival selections. “These artists have provided a light through the darkest of times, and we look forward to welcoming their unique visions out into the world and experiencing them together.”
Sundance will present the world premiere of Film/Video faculty Nina Menkes’ BRAINWASHED: Sex-Camera-Power. The feature-length documentary screens in the Premieres section. In BRAINWASHED, Menkes leads viewers on a mind-blowing journey that reframes cinematic history. Using key scenes from canonical Hollywood films and cult classics, Menkes reveals how shot design—and even sound—contribute to sexual abuse and employ discrimination against women in the film industry and beyond. These techniques and effects have been dubbed the Menkes List. Maria Giese, who instigated the groundbreaking 2015 industry-wide federal investigation of sex discrimination in Hollywood, is a co-producer of the film.
Considered a cinematic feminist pioneer and one of America’s foremost independent filmmakers, Menkes has shown widely in major international film festivals including multiple premieres at Sundance, the Berlinale, Cannes (ACID), Rotterdam, Locarno, Toronto, La Cinematheque Francaise, British Film Institute, Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA in New York, and MOCA and LACMA in LA.
Shots from a presentation that Menkes gave in the Modular Theater at CalArts in 2019 are an important part of the film, which is being presented by Tim Disney, Susan Disney Lord, Abigail Disney and Menkesfilm, with additional support from the CalArts Center for New Performance.
Co-Director of the Film Directing Program Juan Pablo González is featured in the World Cinema Dramatic category with Dos Estaciones, a story set in the bucolic hills of Mexico’s Jalisco highlands where iron-willed businesswoman Maria Garcia fights the impending collapse of her tequila factory. In 2015, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” and his films have been screened at numerous festivals and venues around the world. CalArts alum Ilana Coleman (Film/Video MFA 17) is a producer and screenwriter for the film.
His practice spans between fiction and nonfiction cinema and his work is primarily set in Atotonilco el Alto, Mexico, his hometown. González’s work is concerned with representations of the rural, drug violence, immigration, and the intersection between urban and country life in different communities around the Jalisco Highlands.
In the Indie Episodic program, Sundance veteran and director and screenwriter Michael Polish (Art BFA 92) thrills again with Bring on the Dancing Horses, the tale of an assassin out to complete her list of targets and exact her own brand of justice.
In the Shorts Category, several other faculty and alums are represented across the US Narrative Shorts program, including a world premiere for director and screenwriter Hannah Peterson (Film/Video MFA 18) for “Champ.” After basketball practice one night, Genevieve reveals a dark secret about their coach to her teammates. Wielding strategy and grit off the court, Genevieve works together with her teammates to find a way to retaliate.
“Deer Flower,” directed by Film/Video faculty Kangmin Kim (Film/Video BFA 09), and produced by Ki Jin Kim (Film/Video MFA 10) and Giulia Caruso (Film/Video MFA 13), screens as part of the From the Collection retrospective series. The animated film follows Dujung, an elementary school student who goes to a farm in the suburbs with his parents. While his parents believe that the farm’s expensive and rare specialty will strengthen their son’s body, Dujung suffers side effects. The film also features music by CalArts alums Dan Eaton (Music MFA 11), Louis Lopez (Music MFA 12, BFA 10), and Joseph Santa Maria (Music MFA 10).
Also screening in From the Collection is Siqi Song’s (Film/Video MFA 16) “Sister.” Song’s animated film follows a man who thinks back on his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s and imagines what his life would have been like if things had gone differently?
In the US animation Short Films Category, “the HORK” from director Nicole Stafford (Film/Video 16) has its world premiere. The film visits an alternate dimension in which the stoic god of Power-Unrecognized waits for unrelenting Greed to come and consume her power.
Among visiting artists and faculty at CalArts, three additional shorts made it into the festival:
- An Alpert Award recipient in 2019, director Sky Hopinka has a world premiere “Kicking the Clouds” in the US Nonfiction Shorts. His experimental documentary centers on a 50-year-old cassette tape of a Pechanga language lesson between Sky’s grandmother and great-grandmother, and contextualized by an interview with his mother in his Pacific Northwest hometown.
- Kevin Jerome Everson, a 2012 Alpert Award Recipient directed and will screen the non-fiction “Fe26” in From the Collection Shorts featuring two gentlemen who make a living hustling metal in Cleveland, Ohio.
- Natalia Almada, visiting faculty in Film Directing, will screen “All Water Has a Perfect Memory” in the From the Collection Shorts program. The poignant, experimental documentary explores the effects of tragedy and remembrance on a bicultural family.
—by Marylou Ferry
**If there are films or projects that we have left off the list, please email email@example.com.