August 24, 2019
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Film still from "Adam" directed by Rhys Ernst. Image courtesy of Sundance.

Selected from a record-breaking 14,259 submissions from 152 countries, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival lineup will include films and projects from CalArts alumni.

The festival, which runs Jan. 25 through Feb. 3, 2019, in Park City, Utah, includes dramatic and documentary features, short films, series and episodic content and emerging media. 

Former CalArts students Christine Marie, Melissa Ferrari, Masha Vasilkovsky, Ruah Edelstein, Rhys Ernst, Natalie Metzger, Luis Gutiérrez Arias, John Henry Theisen and Siqi Song will all have films they worked on featured at the festival. Many of the CalArts alums’ works selected for the festival explore cinematic experimentation and touch on politically relevant topics such as racial justice, sexuality and immigration.

“These films and artists tell the truth,” director of the Sundance Film Festival John Cooper said of this year’s festival selection. “Whether documentaries that illuminate hidden histories or fiction features that spotlight diverse, human experiences, this year’s slate is layered, intense and authentic.”

“Adam,” the debut directorial feature film from Emmy award-nominated director and CalArts alum Ernst, is a comedy about a teenager who becomes entangled in new romances and friendships in New York City’s lesbian and transgender activist scene. 

Vasilkovsky and Edelstein, who currently teach as CalArts Character Animation Program faculty, were key collaborators on “Ashe ’68,” which is being showcased at Sundance. Directed by Brad Lichtenstein, “Ashe ’68” is part of a larger documentary project created and produced by Rex Miller that includes a documentary film, photo exhibition and education outreach campaign celebrating tennis champion and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe.

“Ashe ’68” film still. Image courtesy of Sundance.

Produced by Metzger and directed by DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, “Greener Grass” is a “twisted comedy set in a demented, timeless suburbia where every day adults wear braces on their straight teeth, couples coordinate meticulously pressed outfits and coveted family members are swapped in more ways than one in this competition for acceptance,” according to Metzger.

“It’s Going to Be Beautiful” was written and directed by Arias and Theisen, who both graduated from CalArts’ film and video program. The documentary follows the United States Border Patrol’s selection process to choose the winning design for the wall along the southern U.S. border.

Film still from “It’s Going to Be Beautiful,” directed by Luis Gutierrez Arias and John Henry Theisen.

“Society relies on storytellers,” Sundance Institute president and founder Robert Redford said. “This year’s Festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art.”

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Brianna Bricker

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