Big Fur

Source: Slamdance Film Festival

Big Fur

New work from Uruguay, Japan and South Africa are among the 20-strong Slamdance Film Festival feature film competition line-up unveiled on Monday (December 2) alongside the second Breakouts selection.

The 26th edition of the Park City, Utah, festival runs from January 24-30 and across all sections includes 16 premieres, including 10 world, 5 North American, and one US berths. All competition films are feature-length directorial debuts with budgets under $1m and without US distribution. All are eligible for the Audience Award and Spirit of Slamdance Award, the latter of which is voted upon by filmmakers at the festival.

“Slamdance is above all a place of discovery,” said Slamdance co-founder and president Peter Baxter. “Every year filmmakers break out of the festival because the industry at large recognises the need for new voices. With a record breaking 8,231 submissions this year, our artist-led organisation brings a line-up full of wonderful risk taking and unique storytelling. That’s the spirit of Slamdance 2020.”

The 2020 festival will see the return of the Russo Fellowship, a $25,000 prize launched in 2018 by celebrated festival alumni Anthony and Joe Russo “to enable a deserving filmmaker the opportunity to continue their journey with mentorship from the filmmaking duo.” The 2019 award presented by AGBO Films in partnership with the festival went to Hannah Peterson, who has since screened her short East Of The River at Tribeca Film Festival following its premiere at Slamdance), signed with Paradigm, and been hired by the Duplass Brothers to direct the Disney Channel web series, Shook.

Breakouts comprises films by non-first-time-feature directors who demonstrate “a determined vision of filmmaking that is instinctively becoming their own.”

“Once again, in its sophomore year as an official section of the festival, the Breakouts program includes a set of dynamic storytellers beyond their first films who continue to push cinema boundaries in both narrative and documentary forms,” said Breakouts programmer Paul Rachman. “They are clearly establishing their paths forward towards their audiences with originality and risk.”~

2020 competition features:


1986 (Germany/Belarus)
Dir: Lothar Herzog
While Elena repeatedly has to drive into the ‘forbidden zone’ of Chernobyl in order to make deals for her father, her life seems more and more contaminated by a destructive force…
Cast: Daria Mureeva, Evgeni Sangadzhiev, Vitali Kotovitski, Alexei Filimonov, Helga Filippova, Alexei Kravchenko
North American premiere

A Dog’s Death (Uruguay/France/Argentina)
Dir: Matías Ganz
Veterinarian Mario and his wife Silvia enjoy a bourgeois life in Montevideo but two events will disturb their tranquility. A dog surgery goes wrong for Mario and Silvia discovers retirement. They will be dragged from paranoia to violence and from violence to nonsense.
Cast: Guillermo Arengo, Pelusa Vidal, Soledad Gilmet, Lalo Rotaveria, Ruth Sandoval, Ana Katz
North American premiere

Beware Of Dog – (USA/Russia/Germany)
Dir: Nadia Bedzhanova
Three young adults experience parallel struggles with mental health and identity. In Moscow a woman struggles with severe OCD, while her cousin in Berlin tries to build a romantic relationship ignoring her own mental condition. Meanwhile in New York City, a heartbroken boxer faces addiction and lack of self-worth in the aftermath of a break-up.
Cast: Marina Vasileva, Buddy Duress, Paula Knüpling, Marina Prados, Kevin Iso, Pavel Tabakov
World premiere

Murmur (Canada)
Dir: Heather Young
While performing community service at an animal shelter, an older woman begins compulsively adopting pets to ease her loneliness.
Cast: Shan MacDonald

Majnuni (Bosnia and Herzegovina/USA)
Dirs: Kouros Alaghband, Drew Hoffman
After stalking a broken family through the night in the war-torn city of Sarajevo, Adnan snaps into an altered state of consciousness where his identity becomes entangled in the lives he is following.
Cast: Adnan Omerović, Dina Hebib, Barry Del Sherman, Nela Baždar, Emil Ivancic, Mel Flanagan
North American premiere

Residue (USA)
Dir: Merawi Gerima
A young filmmaker returns home after many years away to write a script about his childhood, only to find his neighborhood unrecognisable and his childhood friends scattered to the wind.
Cast: Obinna Nwachukwu, Dennis Lindsey, Taline Stewart
World premiere

Sanzaru (USA)
Dir: Xia Magnus
When a mild Filipina nurse is hired by an elderly woman declining into dementia, the walls between this world and the next crumble as she uncovers her employer’s shocking family secret.
Cast: Aina Dumlao, Justin Arnold, Jayne Taini, Jon Viktor Corpuz
World premiere

Shell And Joint (Japan)
Dir: Isamu Hirabayashi
A wild ride into a world of ideas, alternately profound, shallow, funny and horrific, conveyed by outspoken characters in powerful static compositions, in and around a capsule hotel.
Cast: Mariko Tsutsui, Keisuke Horibe, Kanako Higashi, Aiko Sato, Hiromi Kitagawa, Atsuko Sudo, Ayano Kudo, Naoto Nojima
North American premiere

Tahara (USA)
Dir: Olivia Peace
At the funeral for a Hebrew school classmate who took her own life, two best friends find themselves distracted by the teenage complications of lust, social status, and wavering faith.
Cast: Rachel Sennott, Madeline Grey DeFreece, Shlomit Azoulay, Daniel Taveras, Bernadette Quigley
World premiere

Tapeworm (Canada)
Dirs: Milos Mitrovic, Fabian Velasco
A hypochondriac, a failed comedian, a loner and two naive stoners seek an escape from their pitiful and mundane existence.
Cast: Adam Brooks, Alex Ateah, Milos Mitrovic, Sam Singer, Stephanie Berrington, Jennifer Mauws, Julie Simpson, Sandro Dibari
US premiere

Thunderbolt In Mine Eye (USA)
Dirs: Sarah Sherman, Zachary Ray Sherman
A brainy 14-year-old embarks on an awkward but heartfelt first love relationship with her brother’s best friend while exploring her budding feminism and a gender double standard at their high school.
Cast: Anjini Taneja Azhar, Quinn Liebling
World premiere


An Ordinary People (South Africa/Eswatini/Namibia)
Dir: Ernest Nkosi
Born out of crime and largely marginalised by mainstream society emerges the story of Car Spinning in South Africa.
World premiere

Ask No Questions (Canada)
Dirs: Jason Loftus, Eric Pedicelli
A former Chinese state TV insider is held in a brainwashing camp and compelled to accept the official narrative on a fiery public suicide, which he believes was a government plot.
World premiere

Bastards’ Road (USA)
Dir: Brian Morrison
Coming home from war is just the beginning.

Big Fur (USA, pictured)
Dir: Dan Wayne
If World Champion taxidermist Ken Walker can’t find Bigfoot, he’ll make one.

Higher Love (USA)
Dir: Hasan Oswald
A blue collar father tries to rescue his pregnant, heroin-addicted girlfriend from the dangerous streets of Camden, NJ. Once their son is born, a new journey begins for the fate of the baby and the family’s sobriety that may split them apart forever.
World premiere

Jasper Mall (USA)
Dirs: Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb
A year in the life of a dying shopping mall.
World premiere

Lovemobil (Germany)
Dir: Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss
Along the country roads of rural Germany, prostitutes from foreign countries work in old caravans when mysteriously one woman is murdered and fear begins to spread into an already dark and surreal world.

Maxima (USA/Peru)
Dir: Claudia Sparrow
A multi-billion-dollar corporation meets their match in a fearless Indigenous woman who remains uncowed after years of violent intimidation.

Queen Of The Capital (USA)
Dir: Joshua Davidsburg
DC Bureaucrat by day, drag queen by night, Muffy Blake Stephyns follows her dream of leading a group of vibrant drag performers on a crusade for the community.


Close Quarters (Mexico)
Dir: Andres Clariond
In a time in which it is essential to question gender roles, this film explores, confronts and breaks apart man’s darkest insecurities and vices.
Cast: Paulina Gaitan, Jose Pescina, Jorge Jimenez
North American premiere

The Penny Black (USA)
Dir: Joe Saunders
The estranged son of a conman fights temptation, paranoia, and his own nefarious legacy as he searches for the rightful owner of a mysterious, million-dollar stamp collection.
World premiere

The Wind. A Documentary Thriller (Poland/Slovakia)
Dir: Michal Bielawski
The Wind is a multi-thread story on a clash between people and the forces of nature, woven into a documentary thriller.