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February 2020 - Follow-Up: Sundance Recap

The Sundance Film Festival brought the world another year of amazing films. We had the opportunity to learn more about some of the projects and movies that made us excited about the event.

The Killing of Two Lovers (NEXT)

Divorce is a challenging experience. In Robert Machoian’s new film, The Killing of Two Lovers, he examines the lives of a family being torn apart by the unpredictability of change. Machoaian's experience brings inspiration to create a story reflecting the struggles of divorce. “I have always wanted to make a film on marriage. A film about the raw, sloppy, imperfect aspects of marriage, but I wasn’t sure how," shared Machoian. “When two of my sister’s marriages were stretched to the brink of divorce, I finally saw it.” Machoian encouraged his sisters to get a divorce and move on but chose to stay in the situation. It was then that he realized that he has not seen a film depicted marriage, divorce and everything in between. The process of making this film had the cast looking at different avenues to find inspiration for their characters and the situation they are all experiencing. Clayne Crawford, who plays David, looked towards his family and the fear of losing them. “If you haven’t divorced someone you love, you’ve seen people that had to separate. You know that there was that love there at one time and that’s what interesting about this piece," expressed Crawford. "There’s no traditional villain. Everyone is trying to do the right thing. But sometimes you get to the point that you can’t communicate anymore."

Chris Coy had an interesting perspective on his character, Derek, Niki’s love interest, who many would think is the bad guy. “He just trying to find love and happiness and all the characters are in a different phrase of that pursuit,” says Coy. “I don’t think anyone of us is wrong in those pursuits. It would be easy to think that this guy’s the homewrecker, but in reality, we’re all human beings. We don’t all have the answers. We’re all just doing our best to figure out what makes this [our heart] beat right and it’s okay if we misstep here and there in that pursuit.” The film covers all perspectives, feelings, and struggles. It’s an uneasy, difficult, and gut-wrecking view of marriage, the unfortunate reality of divorce, and the effects it has.

Nine Days (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

In 2020, the topic of mental illness is still not at the forefront of discussion in this country. First time director, Edson Oda, plans to change all of that in the movie Nine Days. Oda had a star-studded cast in his first time out. The film stars Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Bill Skarsgard, Benedict Wong, and Tony Hale. Duke plays a reclusive man who interviews prospective candidates - the personification of human souls - for the opportunity to be born. The film discusses topics like suicide and depression. These topics are still taboo in the Black community. For Duke, that was one of the big reasons he took part in this film. “This story deals with mental health issues in this movie. Once I add my body to it, it becomes Black psychology. That's something that needs to be addressed and come more to the forefront in our media and I knew I could do that. That's why I knew I needed to do this. If I did this, I knew it would be something different and special.” Oda wants audiences to walk away from this film with hope, “Sometimes, life can be freaking hard, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it."

All Kinds of Limbo (New Frontier Exhibition)

Take a moment to gather yourselves.

For the next few minutes, I ask that you lead me your ears.

Now, let it be clear as pure water, this, is not a Black British story

Logically I can not be the messenger for any of my countrymen.

No, this is my story, my lonely island cast into dark shadowing waves that have left me in Limbo.

This exhibition was a lovely surprise to start the event. Nubiya Brandon takes you on a journey of discovery. A trip of definition and identity. Along with Toby Coffey, Raffy Bushman, musician Raffy Bushman, and the NuShape Orchestra, they take you through the genres of reggae, grime, classical, and calypso in a musical journey inspired by the influence of West Indian culture on the UK's music scene. With immersive technologies, the ceremony of live performance, and the craft of theatrical staging, this piece brings audiences into an exciting VR space. Brandon shared her reason behind the project. “The story is quite a personal story about my journey through identity in Britain. I suppose I was challenging the idea of the English Rose and what it means to me.” Learn more about the production at

Still Here (New Frontier Exhibition)

If there was one exhibit that gave us a sucker punch to the gut, it’s Still Here. The exhibition, created by lead artists Zahra Rasool and Sarah Springer, is an *immersive multimedia installation exploring incarceration, erasure, and gentrification through the lens of one woman who returns to Harlem after 15 years in prison. They share the story of reclaiming space and identity in a changing black community through VR and AR technology. We experienced the VR section, which was emotional. In the day and age of the “woke,” this exhibit forces you to take a good look at what the black community experiences to survive in a world that is constantly judging on appearance and stereotypes.


The cast of Luxor was excited to share their experiences working on the film. Luxor, written and directed by Zeina Durra, tells the story of a British aid worker, Hana, who returns to the ancient city of Luxor. She comes across Sultan, a talented archaeologist, and former lover. Hana finds herself struggling to reconcile the past with the uncertainty of the present. Durra shared her inspiration behind the movie. “I had a dream. I had a dream!” exclaimed Durra. “I had the flu and was analyzing my choices in life. I had this dream about Luxor. You can't beat shooting in Luxor, so we kind of made it happen.”

Michael Landes was drawn by the beauty of Luxor and working with lead actor Andrea Riseborough. He feels viewers will relate to her. “[Andrea] is such a strong actress that you...follow this woman healing and going on this journey.” Durra feels that viewers will leave the theater with a sense of hope and lessons learned. “I want them to understand what it’s like to be a broken person and put yourself back together. [It's about] hope, second chances and the guy does not save you!”

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