“Fairyland,” Directed by Andre Durham
“Fairyland” was the most heart-warming film premiere at this year’s festival. Durham tells the story of a father-daughter duo in San Francisco from the 1970s into the early 1990s. The father, Steve Abbott (Scoot McNairy) is a poet, which is often included throughout the film as a creative touch. Emilia Jones, former Sundance star from “CODA,” gave a phenomenal performance as the daughter, Alysia Abbott. With themes of LGBTQ+ struggles during the AIDS epidemic, fatherhood and coming of age, it is hard to not shed a tear during this film by the first-time director. During the Q&A portion of the film premiere, Durham explained he was given the memoir by Sofia Coppola, a producer of the film. Coppola thought Durham would portray the film better than her as a San Francisco native with a gay dad. Throughout the film, you can feel the passion and how dear the project is to Durham. While the film awaits its distribution pick-up, you can read Alysia Abbott’s story on paper with her book, “Fairyland.”
“Judy Blume Forever,” Directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok
“Judy Blume Forever” is a love letter to the YA section at your local library. The documentary highlights the life of Judy Blume up till now, where she continues to advocate against the censorship and banning of books. With colorful illustrations to retell the excerpts from her novels, the film is captivating in its presentation of Blume’s history. With sincere stories, the life of Judy Blume is captured well within the documentary. Pardo and Wolchok shared in their Q&A that their inspiration for the film comes from their own girlhood. “Judy Blume Forever” is a sweet documentary and will touch the hearts of all bookworms. Look for “Judy Blume Forever,” streaming globally on Prime Video on April 21st.
“Mutt,” Directed by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz
With a talented cast and unique screenwriting, Lungulov-Klotz outdid themselves. Lungulov-Klotz is a Sundance Institute Lab fellow alumnus, leading to great storytelling. “Mutt” is a story of a young trans man, Feña (Lio Mehiel), navigating his relationships within 24 hours in New York City. Feña is a playful and relatable character. Steering through his relationship with queerness, his Chilean identity and familial relations, Mehiel brings life to the character. “Mutt” is one of the few LGBTQ+ stories that does not end in devastation, unlike many of the popularized LGBTQ+ films. The film might have been better as a TV series idea, but it is definitely worth a watch. The film got picked up by Best Friend Forever for the international market and will be on more screens soon.
“Fancy Dance,” Directed by Erica Tremblay
“Fancy Dance” is an indigenous story of an aunt-niece relationship: Jax (Lily Gladstone) and Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson). The search for Roki’s disappeared mother leads to hidden secrets and unexplainable occurrences on the reservation. While the story is a bit slow at times, the sister-mother-like bond between the two helps overlook the film’s minor flaws. “Fancy Dance” adds to Tremblay’s filmography extending indigenous voices on screen for the best.