Last month, the Sundance Institute announced the 82 feature films and 52 shorts selected for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. And there's a common thread that ties together six of this year’s lineup—they all found funding on Kickstarter.
So much incredible, form-pushing work comes to our platform each year and we’re proud of all the filmmakers who see their projects through from fundraising to completion. It’s especially exciting when we discover Kickstarter alumni are to have their hard work rewarded with a showcase at a top-tier film festival.
The six projects going to Sundance this year are not to be missed. They charm, confront and challenge, and are a testament to the curiosity and determination of the teams that brought them to life. The films represent an enormous diversity both of filmmakers and of stories, with three of them having received pledges from our Creative Capital Creator Fund, designed to support creators of color. Kickstarter has always been a home to creators from underrepresented communities, supporting them to achieve financial and artistic freedom—and we’re proud to see this legacy continue.
Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Jules Rosskam, Screenwriter: Nate Gualtieri, Producers: André Pérez, Amy E. Powell, Brittani Ward. Available online for the public.
Desire Lines is a hybrid feature film that blends personal interviews, archival materials, and narrative fiction as a framework for exploring the complicated and often unwritten history of transmasculine sexuality. Testimonials from transgender men both past and present dissect how cultural expectations, political agendas, and gatekeeping practices shape the locus of desire.
The fictional story centers on Ahmad, an Iranian expat who arrived in America at the onset of the AIDS crisis. Now in his 60s, concealing his trans identity for decades has meant distancing himself from intimacy. Ahmad comes to the LGBTQ archives of Chicago to explore his latent homosexuality and engage in fantasy to reimagine his life as an out, gay trans man.
The film is part of Sundance’s NEXT programming category, dedicated to film projects that are “distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling.” Check out the website for Desire Lines here.
Director: Yero Timi-Biu, Screenwriter: Busayo Ige, Producers: Angela Moneke, Simon Hatton. Available online for the public.
ESSEX GIRLS is a coming-of-age dramedy written by and starring actress Busayo Ige, directed by Yero Timi-Biu.
The short film explores how it feels to be a Black girl in a largely white space, how to find self-love in a sphere that doesn't always accommodate you, the magical power of female friendships and Black girl magic. All wrapped inside a warm, funny, nostalgic package set across 2009 Britain.
Growing up Black in majority white Benfleet, Essex hasn’t been straightforward for Bisola … no one here looks like her, she has no luck with the local lads, and weathers micro-aggressions on the daily.
She’s done her best to fit in, but even her two best friends Saffron & Charlie, who love her to bits, seem to be understanding her less and less recently.
However, after a racial incident at her high school shunts her into the orbit of the only other Black girl in her year – the gorgeous, irrepressible Ashlee, who is everything Bisola wishes she could be – Bisola is plunged into a journey of discovering a whole new side of herself.
Ashlee might just be the gateway into another form of sisterhood that Bisola’s craving...
Will she be able to find the balance between these two worlds? Or in doing so will she push away her best friends?
Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Natalie Jasmine Harris, Producers: Samiyah Wardlaw, Julia Kennelly, Latavia Young, Morgan B. Powell. Available online for the public.
Grace is directed by award-winning filmmaker Natalie Jasmine Harris.
Grace and her two sisters spend every summer at their grandparents’ house down south. However, this summer will be unlike any other. Now that she’s finally 16, Grace must participate in the communal tradition of baptism. When she learns that a repentance is required before the ritual, she begins to question the budding romantic feelings that she has for her best friend, Louise.
Grace is a dramatic Black Southern Gothic and queer short film set in the 1950s that explores the conflicts that religious traditions and rites of passage often present in relation to identity formation. It’s a film about faith, hot combs, peach picking, and summer love. It rewrites and rights the history validating that Queer Black women have always been here; thriving, existing, and being.
Director and Screenwriter: Alexandra Qin, Producers: Brooke Goldman, Alexandra Qin. Available online for the public.
Charlie and Nic are headed somewhere. We’re not sure where. All we know is Charlie can’t stop sending nudes and watching pornography on her phone. As the sisters go along their journey, Charlie’s need for sex intensifies and she resorts to more and more depraved behaviors to get her fix.
THIRSTYGIRL is an intimate film about sisterhood and addiction, following two mixed-race Asian-American women traveling across the American South.
Find out more about the short film here.
As part of their 40th Edition Celebration Screenings and Events, Sundance is revisiting some festival history by bringing back two other Kickstarter-funded projects: The Babadook and Pariah.
Director and Screenwriter: Jennifer Kent, Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Kristian Moliere
“Do you want to die?!” 7-year-old Samuel asks his stressed-out single mother, Amelia. She wonders if his question is a threat or a warning. After dealing with Samuel’s frantic tantrums his entire life, Amelia suspects that her son has begun directing his violent misbehavior toward her. However, after a dark and foreboding children’s book called Mister Babadook mysteriously appears on Samuel’s bookshelf, Amelia must decide if her son is truly deranged, or if there really is a bogeyman lurking in their darkened halls at night.
First-time feature director Jennifer Kent vividly captured the vicious turbulence of Samuel’s shrill outbursts, generating a real sense of horror from his aggressive unruliness, all the while subtly hinting at the weary Amelia’s own deeply troubled nature. The Babadook builds up tension and dread in this damaged family’s home before deftly introducing the terrifying possibility that something even more ominous may be stalking the dysfunctional pair.
Check out a trailer for the film here.
Director and Screenwriter: Dee Rees, Producer: Nekisa Cooper
When forced to choose between losing her best friend or destroying her family, a Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and endures heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression.
Pariah first premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival as a short film. It later returned to the 2011 Festival as a feature film premiering in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, where it received an Excellence in Cinematography Award. Director Dee Rees workshopped Pariah in the Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs and received three separate Institute grants to support production of the film. After opening to critical acclaim, Pariah, a young Black lesbian’s coming-of-age story, quickly became part of the LGBTQ+ film canon.
Check out the trailer for Pariah here.